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Proving the link between living on country and improved Indigenous health

Proving the link between being on country and improved Indigenous health

First Nations people who spend time on country have better health outcomes.

It has been a long-held anecdotal belief of cultural leaders and health professionals, but a massive research project is underway to prove the science.

Known as Mayi Kuwayu, the study will be led by Australian National University (ANU) Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health and will survey up to 250,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders for up to 50 years in a comprehensive longitudinal study into how culture impacts health and wellbeing.

ANU associate professor Dr Ray Lovett said the pilot studies in communities in Victoria, along the Murray Darling River, and central Australia already demonstrated better connections to country vastly improved the mental health of its Aboriginal participants.

“Those two studies are showing the same thing in two totally different areas,” Dr Lovett said.

“Usually you don’t see these kinds of relationships this early on, but we’re already seeing them in the smaller-scale studies that we’re running as part of the development process.”

The full survey will be rolled-out across Australia in mid-2018.