Yarning research wins prestigious Premier’s Award

The 2020 Premier's Awards for Health and Medical Research were announced on Monday December 7 by the Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Jaala Pulford.

Cammi Murrup-Stewart during award announcementCongratulations to Gukwonderuk Indigenous Engagement Unit researcher, Cammi Murrup-Stewart, who won the category of Aboriginal Researcher undertaking research in any field of health and medical research.

The Premier’s Awards celebrate the achievements of Victoria’s early career health and medical researchers and highlight the breadth of work being undertaken in Victoria that can make significant improvements to the lives of people around the world. Judged by a panel of six experts from the health and medical research sector, each category winner receives $5,000.

Supervised by Professor Karen Adams and Dr Laura Jobson, Cammi’s research aimed to understand the link between culture and wellbeing for Aboriginal people. Her PhD consisted of two phases, a systematic review, and a qualitative study. The systematic review explored Indigenous perceptions of Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) program successes and failures. The qualitative research phase employed Indigenous Yarning Research Methods with 20 young urban Aboriginal knowledge holders to understand how they experienced culture, connection and wellbeing.

“I used Indigenous methodologies to undertake a qualitative study of young urban Aboriginal people in Naarm (Melbourne). They shared stories about their understanding of culture, their experiences of connection and disconnection, and they reflected on the influence culture has on their wellbeing”, Cammi explains.

The insights found within her PhD provide vital evidence to the community, policymakers and scholars about the centrality of culture to wellbeing and the value of listening to Indigenous youth.

“Being able to provide empirical evidence to back up our long recognised value of culture will help Aboriginal communities to drive self-determined health and wellbeing strategies. This study also shows that Indigenous methodologies are valid and effective, and need to be recognised as such by the academy and scientific community.”

Professor Karen Adams, Director of Gukwonderuk, highlights the important role Cammi’s research plays in helping the wider community to understand and value Aboriginal voices.

“This award is so well deserved as Cammi's research elevates the voices of urban young Aboriginal peoples who are often unheard and maligned. In contrast to stereotypes,  the young people in the study vibrantly demand better access to their Aboriginal culture and connection to Country for positive social and emotional wellbeing. They also make brilliant suggestions for how education and social service sectors can do better and avoid assimilatory practices. I am so proud of Cammi and the young people, our future is in good hands.”

Being recognised with a Premier’s Award is a validating experience for Cammi, who managed disability and chronic illness during the course of her PhD. She acknowledges the immense support of her supervisors and those who championed her work as an Indigenous researcher.

“These kinds of awards are more than just about celebrating my own personal achievements. My research wouldn't have happened without the guidance from Aboriginal mentors and Elders, and the stories shared so generously by young Indigenous people.”

Cammi submitted her PhD in September 2020 and is taking up an assistant lecturer role at the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health this month.

Read the Premier’s Awards for Health and Medical Research press release.

Explore Cammi’s research in the following publications: