Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have substantially poorer health and shorter life expectancy than the rest of the Australian population. Vaccine programs have been successful in reducing disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people for specific VPDs, despite persistent adverse social and environmental conditions. For vaccines included in the National Immunisation Program (NIP), coverage is comparable in Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. While significant reductions in VPD burden have been seen in both, persistent delays in vaccination among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to place them at increased risk of disease in early life. Australia has had a number of vaccine programs included on the NIP only for Indigenous people, and coverage for these programs is substantially lower than for universal NIP vaccines, largely related to poor identification of Indigenous status among health service providers and cultural and practical barriers to health service access. Poor quality data on disease and health service delivery has limited the ability to monitor program effectiveness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The CRE team has extensive experience in Indigenous vaccinology research and has developing methods to extend the use of administrative datasets. Research in this theme focuses on methods to improve Indigenous identifiers, means to monitor program effectiveness, methods to better target vaccination programs and models of delivering immunisation programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and research into improving vaccine delivery, coverage and timeliness.
Aboriginal Health Research Round Table
On 3rd December 2012, the CRE hosted a Stakeholder discussion on 3rd of December 2012 with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector. The round table was facilitated by James Ward from CRE, and Dr Ngiare Brown and Janine Milera from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), and was attended by 30 participants with expertise and an interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vaccination issues from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and its affiliates, Aboriginal health councils and Aboriginal health services.
The roundtable aim was to assist the CRE with identifying research priorities in the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vaccination needs from the ground up. The roundtable offered the opportunity to hear the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The stakeholders recommended that the focus of CRE research should be on strategies to improve immunisations coverage and timeliness across the life span, across the rural and urban parts of the country and on the issues of workforce for immunisations.
Following the roundtable, the CRE started a newsletter to roundtable delegates to keep them informed of going on activities within the stream. These newsletters have and will be distributed quarterly.
National Indigenous Immunisation Research Workshop
This workshop was conducted on 7 and 8 November 2013, was hosted by the Telethon Institute of Child Health Research. PRP Snelling was the principal organiser. The CRE were represented on the organising committee and several members of the stream attended and presented their research. The CRE also contributed by partial sponsoring of the workshop.