Digital Health to Support Indigenous Health and Wellbeing

LocationOn campus: Monash University Clayton and Warragul
Off campus
DurationThree years and three months
Fixed-term, full-time candidature
RemunerationThe successful applicants will receive a Faculty of IT Research Living Allowance, at current value of $29,500 per annum 2021 full-time rate (tax-free stipend), indexed plus allowances as per RTP stipend scholarship conditions

About the project

This PhD project is part of an exciting research collaboration between the Faculty of Information Technology, the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and Indigenous communities in rural Victoria.

Developing a digital platform for Indigenous people’s health and wellbeing in close collaboration with Indigenous stakeholders, the candidate will:

  • explore the digital health needs of Indigenous people, particularly those relating to the most important public health problems affecting them
  • co-design and present prototypes of culturally-safe, Indigenous-friendly digital health solutions to address identified health and wellbeing needs
  • evaluate the impact of the solutions, incorporating the world views of Indigenous communities.

Why Monash?

Monash University is the largest university in Australia.

We rank in the world’s top 100 for Computing and Information Sciences (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2021) and are the country’s most innovative university (Reuters Top 75: Asia’s Most Innovative Universities, 2017-2019).

The broader research program

Network for Equity through Digital Health (NEED)

NEED is an interdisciplinary collaboration that uses digital health to address health and wellness inequalities across Australia and surrounding countries. This initiative targets underserved communities in Australia, and the Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asian regions – locations which may have low access to technology and digital literacy. This encompasses for example, rural and regional areas in Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh and the Pacific Islands.

Aligned with Monash University’s vision for global impact, NEED strives to enhance access to high-quality healthcare and wellbeing in underserved communities through critical research.

NEED also fortifies the relationship between Monash University across Australia and Malaysia, given the natural synergy of this agenda with parts of South-East Asia in particular.

As a successful applicant, you will join this research team but also undertake your own distinct PhD initiative. The benefits of this are that you will be:

  • integrated into a successful funded research agenda
  • supervised by research leaders and advised by a group of leading Indigenous health professionals
  • undertake a PhD with a pre-existing structure
  • part of the research outcomes, which may include co-authored publications (where your contributions will be recognised through co-authorship) and future grant applications.

Support for Indigenous PhD students

When you undertake an IT PhD with Monash, you’ll automatically be put forward for any applicable scholarships and have access to other additional support resources:

  • a tax-free stipend of $29,500 per annum for 3.5 years
  • the opportunity to apply for the Monash Indigenous Research Award funded by MGRO. This is a $5,000 tax-free annual top-up.
  • $4,000 of research support over the duration of your candidature
  • a laptop or desktop provided by the Faculty.

Candidate requirements

Ideal applicants will have:

  • an excellent academic track record
  • experience in IT or health IT
  • knowledge and skills relating to any of the following: stakeholder engagement, IT system design, basic web programming and technology evaluation.
  • met the criteria required for PhD admission at Monash University.

Cultural knowledge and experience in Indigenous and qualitative research methods, and working with Indigenous communities are desirable.

The successful applicant will be expected to enrol by February 2022, however there may be flexibility around the commencement date.

Scholarship holders must be enrolled full-time. Applicants who already hold a PhD will not be considered.

Supervisory team

Professor Chris Bain

Professor of Practice in Digital Health
Digital Health Theme Lead, Faculty of Information Technology
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Professor Bain’s position is the first of its kind in the Faculty of IT.

He is both a seasoned clinician and a respected IT and information systems specialist with more than 30 years' experience in the health industry – including 12 in clinical medicine.

He has led numerous software development and implementation projects in both the clinical and management support areas. Professor Bain also works with many Monash faculties and Institutes, and health industry partners to lead efforts in Digital Health across Australia and Malaysia.

Dr Anton Isaacs

Senior lecturer, School of Rural Health, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Dr Isaacs is a public health physician interested in the mental health of rural and medically-underserved communities. With extensive relationships across the Indigenous community in rural Victoria, his research focuses on the design, implementation and evaluation of mental health and wellbeing services.

The first mental health service Dr Isaacs designed and implemented was called MAANASI in rural Karnataka (India). Following his PhD which focused on help seeking for mental health problems by Aboriginal men and the service response, he co-designed a model for early detection of mental health problems among Aboriginal men called the Koori Men's Health Day.

Dr Isaacs also supported the development of JEKKORA – an Aboriginal model of early identification and support of persons with psychological distress and suicidal ideation in rural communities.

Aboriginal Advisory Committee

The Committee is made up of diverse members, two of which work in education and the remaining in health. This combination provides unique and pertinent perspectives to the PhD candidate’s work.

All members are known to each other and have good rapport, which facilitates a collegial exchange of ideas and provides a culturally-supportive environment.

Troy Jennings
Koorie Hospital Liaison Officer
West Gippsland Hospital, Warragul
Linda Mullett
Koorie Engagement Support Officer
Inner Gippsland | South-Eastern Victoria Region
Gail Mounsey
Koorie Hospital Liaison Officer
Latrobe Regional Hospital, Traralgon
Zack Haddock
Executive Director, Koorie Outcomes Division
School Education Programs and Support Group Department of Education and Training

In a time of ever-evolving technology, the way we communicate and access health information is as easy as a click of a button.

The limits are endless to the type of health literacy messaging and learnings that can be delivered using a culturally-appropriate system that is relevant, easy to use and engaging. New ways to connect with families, communities and health professionals are being uncovered - and confidence and participation are gaining momentum.

To create a successful digitised platform for First Nations peoples, we first need to work closely with them, listening to and understanding their experiences with the health system, past Government policies and intergenerational experiences that continue to affect communities and impact the relationship Aboriginal people have with healthcare today.

In this collaboration, experts in health and IT will work with our strong Aboriginal Advisory Committee to support an Indigenous PhD candidate as they develop this vital digital platform for Aboriginal health.

The candidate will become an authority in this rapidly-growing discipline for Indigenous peoples in Australia and internationally -- and emerge with skills that few possess but many desire.