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We are developing Indigenous-driven scientific solutions in collaboration with communities around Australia. These ideas will help Indigenous peoples, cultures, and nations have sustainable futures.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have amassed extensive knowledge about, compassion for, and respect for the country’s lands and seas through tens of thousands of years. Indigenous scientists are now Australia’s first scientists as a result.

We can address Australia’s biggest problems by combining Indigenous and western sciences. Here are some illustrations of how we go about achieving that.

keeping a close watch on health

Australians of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent do not all have equal access to healthcare. Lack of access to health care is one of the primary causes of this. In isolated communities, this is particularly true. Therefore, in order to improve access to eye care services, we are collaborating with isolated Indigenous communities in northern Australia.

People with diabetes are prevalent in isolated areas in northern Australia. It is a disorder that, if untreated, may lead to blindness and eye issues. People find it difficult to visit a professional and get the services they need because of the distance.

To address this issue, we are establishing a telehealth programme in collaboration with Queensland Health, Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation, Marthakal Homeland and Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation, and Gidgee Healing.

This service teaches telehealth employees how to take crisp pictures of the eyes, input data, submit files to a secure telehealth site, and evaluate diagnostic recommendations. This then enables local healthcare providers to assist ophthalmologists in providing the data (eye care specialists who diagnose diabetic retinopathy).

With this service, people may obtain eye treatment without having to go to major cities. Regardless of their circumstance, it offers the greatest treatment.

Framework for indigenous-driven e-health

The use of e-health solutions including mobile applications, telehealth platforms, and virtual care is growing. Therefore, we must make sure that they are suitable for First Nations peoples. In Australia, this entails ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are in charge of the design and adoption.

This has been investigated by the Indigenous Research Group at the Australian e-health Research Centre (AeHRC). In a recent publication, the group describes a programme of research being conducted to provide a framework for e-health treatments and is being directed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Through genuine co-design, this study aims to improve the quality and long-term viability of e-health solutions. The framework will serve as a guide for the design and development of the solution, for instance, if an app has the ability to support Indigenous models of care. It will be a secure e-health system that promotes good health from a cultural perspective.

Additionally, the team received a CSIRO Award in 2021 for their dedication to promoting cutting-edge e-health solutions.

Thermal comfort sensors for smart homes

Residents in Alice Springs Town Camps have complained to Tangentyere, their Aboriginal Community Controlled Council, about how hot their houses are. Thus, the Tangentyere Research Hub requested assistance from the Indigenous health specialists of AeHRC.

In order to acquire information regarding the thermal performance of the dwellings and look into any potential health effects, we worked with the Tangentyere and Town Camp communities. The findings will support the inhabitants’ efforts to promote better living circumstances.

In this unusual environment, we measured temperature, electricity use, and humidity in people’s homes using our Smarter Safer Homes technology (the sensors do not collect vision or audio data). We’ve utilised this technique previously with success.

The results of this 12-month feasibility study, which included 20 families, regularly reveal readings beyond the generally acknowledged thermal comfort range of 18 to 24 degrees Celsius. Since power insecurity is a serious concern for inhabitants of Town Camp, the research partnership is also tying home environmental data to power insecurity data. More research is thus scheduled for 2022.

keeping a record of seasonal understandings

While you are likely aware with the seasons of summer, autumn, winter, and spring, did you know that there are also Indigenous seasonal calendars? They are the result of tens of thousands of years of study and observation.

Smart Homes: Conclusion and Future Work

We have teamed up with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language groups from all throughout Australia to record their own seasonal calendars. These calendars play a significant role in facilitating knowledge exchange and education regarding Indigenous science and land management. This is so because many activities are supported by a seasonal awareness of the country.

Indigenous The understanding of the seasons varies greatly by region and linguistic group in Australia. Depending on where the seasonal knowledge of Country has evolved, there are significant differences in the number of seasons acknowledged in a yearly cycle, the duration of each season, and how they are regionally defined and understood. Want to know more? On this project, we co-produced an ABC TV series: Many Seasons, Many Lands.

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