The Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC) is bringing together indigenous health leaders from Australia, and abroad, in a flagship breakfast event at MEDINFO23 that will explore how to better integrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in the design of digital health initiatives.

DHCRC CEO Annette Schmiede said it is well recognised that co-design is critical for successful digital health initiatives, yet often when it comes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, it can be seen as a mere token, with projects failing to meaningfully engage those with lived experiences.

“A key role of the DHCRC is to bring all voices from across the health, research and technology ecosystem to the table,” Ms Schmiede said. “This discussion presents an opportunity to amplify the views and needs of indigenous voices to the broader health community.”

The panel of prominent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander digital health leaders will share their lived experiences and perspectives on the need for co-design and inclusivity.

Panellists include Aboriginal researcher and Associate Professor and Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health (University of Sydney), Michelle Dickson; Elaine Wills, Warumunga woman and Project Manager on a DHCRC Northern Territory research project; Berne Gibbons, Senior Advisor – Clinical and Digital Health Standards Governance – Digital Strategy Division and DHCRC Board Member;  Kim Brooks, Tlingit woman and Vice President, Regional Operations, Vancouver Coastal; and Jasper Garay, an Aboriginal researcher with expertise in co-design with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

DHCRC Board Member Berne Gibbons said right now there is a unique opportunity to embed and expand the use of digital health in remote communities.

“I am excited about the chance for this panel discussion to give a voice to Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders at one of the largest health conferences held globally,” Ms Gibbons said.

“The pandemic accelerated technology adoption in healthcare, especially in remote areas, and this has reinforced the importance of listening to local communities and including them in the co-design of digital health initiatives.”

Michelle Dickson said amplifying this discussion about co-design in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is critical to determining how digital health can better meet community needs and improve access and equity.

“This discussion will provide a fresh perspective that will challenge systems thinking and look to amplify the voices and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in digital health research,” Ms Dickson said.

The breakfast will be held on Monday 10 July at the ICC, Sydney.

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