The UQ Poche Centre facilitates a range of research opportunities for undergraduate, honours and masters by coursework students through the UQ Summer Reserach Program.

The Centre brings together Indigenous and health expertise across the University, and works collaboratively with Indigenous community organisations and health providers. A core objective of the Centre is the development of a skilled, culturally responsive health workforce.

The UQ Summer Research Program provides you with an opportunity to gain research experience working alongside some of the university’s leading academics and researchers and is coordinated by the UQ Student Employability Centre. All Summer Research scholars are eligible to apply for a scholarship for the duration of their research (between 6-10 weeks). 

Broad requirements for the Poche Centre Summer Research Scholarships

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are especially encouraged to apply.
  • Students must be currently enrolled at UQ at the time of application.
  • Students must have completed at least one year of study at the time of application. 
  • Students should have a high level of academic achievement.

Further information for applicants is available on the UQ Student Employability Centre website.

It is expected that scholars will work a minimum of 20 hours per week for at least six weeks. Please note that some positions require scholars to work on a full-time basis (up to 36 hours per week), and the expected workload is set by each supervisor. The scholar and the supervisor are able to negotiate the duration of the project and the workload requirements. 

Murri School Moments: Student experiences of service learning (allied health placements) in an independent Indigenous school

Suitable for

Allied health students with some research training or research experience and who share an interest in advancing their understanding of cultural responsiveness and student learning regarding working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Project duration

10 weeks

Supervisors
  • Dr Emma Campbell (primary supervisor, UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences)
  • Dr Alison Nelson (Institute for Urban Indigenous Health)
Background 

The development of a culturally responsive health workforce is essential to ensuring effective health service delivery. Service learning is one way to help achieve this goal. 

Service learning involves a two way interaction whereby students contribute to a community through their learning experience and they develop new contextualised skills and knowledge. It can involve professional training experiences such as student fieldwork or placements.  In 2015, approximately 80 allied health students submitted their written reflections on their five week placements at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Independent Community School (The Murri School) as part of this study.

What did the students learn from working in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander context? Did their experiences change the way they see the world? If so, how? What helped or hindered their learning? What difference might these experiences make in the careers of the students?

In search of answers to these questions, this research aims to understand the student’s experiences through analysis of their written reflections. Data collection and entry has been completed and the next step involves qualitiative analysis and write-up of the analysis.

The student involved in this summer research project will be involved in analysing data, and the writing up of a research paper.

Key Tasks
  • A research paper (with intention of publication) regarding experiences of students involved in service learning at the Murri School.
  • Short summary of research findings for dissemination to relevant stakeholders (e.g. school staff, university staff involved in the program)
  • Possible short presentation to the school (or other relevant stakeholders) regarding the research and it’s findings.

Cherbourg’s ‘Marching Girls’: Histories, Meaning and Healing

Suitable for

Students motivated to work with and learn alongside Indigenous cultures. Ideally, applicants should have taken at least one history, Indigenous Studies or sociology course.

Project duration

10 weeks

Supervisors
Background 

Marching as a competitive sport for young women enjoyed great popularity throughout Australia from the 1950s onwards. While very few Indigenous Australian women participated, the activity was embraced by the Queensland Aboriginal settlement of Cherbourg, which fielded several teams that competed locally, regionally and nationally between 1957 and 1962. In a community with a proud and well-known men’s sporting history, marching offered young women a rare team sport, opportunities for travel, and a source of pride and empowerment. The former ‘marching girls’, now women aged in their seventies, are keen to tell and preserve their histories in the sport as a means of individual and collective pride and healing.

Aims
  • Collaboratively work with the former ‘marching girls’ to ensure their voices are recorded/preserved
  • Research and collate written records to share with the community
  • Explore, share and record personal memories and meanings
  • Individually, contribute to the process of healing through history making
  • Collectively, contribute to reconciliation efforts through collective memory making and displays of these memories
Key tasks
  • Conduct a literature search
  • Assist with archival research
  • Contribute to database development
  • Organise oral history interviews with individuals to share and record personal memories and meanings
  • Organise yarning circles to share and record collective memories and meanings
  • Liaise with Indigenous groups and memory institutions to make appropriate documents and materials available

Working out if Work It Out Works: Evaluation of a Chronic Disease Self-Management Program

Suitable for

This project is open to year 3 or 4 students studying in the following fields:

  • Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
  • Public Health
  • Human Movements/Exercise Science
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
  • Or a similar field.
Project duration

6 weeks

Supervisors
  • Dr Emma Campbell (primary supervisor, UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences)

  • Dr Alison Nelson (Institute for Urban Indigenous Health)
Background 

Programs that support chronic disease prevention, self-management, and rehabilitation are key to addressing the health-gap that exists between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. This is because chronic diseases account for 70 percent of the health-gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (Vos et al., 2009). For example, according to Vos and colleagues, Type II Diabetes accounts for 12 percent of the health-gap and is one of the three main chronic diseases that contribute to this gap, along with cardiovascular disease and substance use disorders. 

Work It Out is a free education and exercise program delivered by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) and designed specifically for urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with, or at risk of, a chronic disease. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic conditions, who participate in the program, are provided with support to cope, take part in everyday activities and live a healthy lifestyle. Participants are referred to the program by their doctor.

The program aims  to:

  • improve quality of life/participation in everyday life
  • increase confidence and ability to cope
  • improve fitness
  • provide a better understanding of how to live a healthy and active life
  • improve social and emotional wellbeing

The program is based on a 12 week cycle  (Participants can complete more than 1 cycle). Each week there are 2-4 sessions. Each session involves one hour of exercise and a 45 minute education session, delivered by a range of health professionals, including Indigenous health workers, occupational therapists, exercise physiologists, psychologists, dietitians, and diabetes educators. Each participant's exercise program is individually tailored for them by an exercise physiologist and delivered within a supportive group setting.

Allied health professionals also undertake one-on-one consultations with clients so they can achieve a greater result.

Aims
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of a chronic disease self management program (Work It Out)
  • Your role will include joining in the ‘Work It Out’ program weekly for a set period of time at one location (e.g. Woodridge, Capalaba, Morayfield, or Woolloongabba) to experience the program first hand. Data (survey responses and physiological biomarkers of ‘Work It Out’ participants) is being collected by the employees of IUIH working on the ‘Work It Out’ program.
  • Research Questions - Does participation in Work It Out over a 12 month period:
    1. improve participants’ chronic disease self management skills according to client self report on the Partners In Health Survey?

    2. improve participation in everyday life activities according to client self report on the WHODAS 2.0?

    3. improve physiological health according to the 6 minute walk test, waist-hip ratio, blood pressure measurements, and blood glucose measurements?

    4. improve the social and emotional wellbeing of participants according to the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K5)

Key tasks
  • At the time of your involvement, pre- and post- data will have been collected over a 12 month period. You will be involved in cleaning the data, data analysis, and writing up methods, findings, and contributing to the discussion section for a paper regarding the effectiveness of the Work It Out program. Introduction/literature review for the paper will be provided to you as background information before commencing the project and to provide you with a clear idea of the existing evidence regarding chronic disease self-management programs. It is expected that you will be a co-author on a paper for publication.

Expected skill development:

  • Carrying out applied research in an interdisciplinary team setting
  • Experience attending (and assisting qualified health professionals) in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Setting
  • Supported self-reflection regarding own cultural background and working in a diverse cultural environment (including historical and social context)
  • Data analysis (quantitative)
  • Writing (methods, findings, discussion)

Deliverables:

Working with professionals, managers, and other researchers (psychologist, exercise physiologists, dietitians, occupational therapists)  you will deliver

  • a clean data set
  • complete data analysis for the above hypotheses
  • complete write up of methods and findings
  • contribution to inter-professional team dialogue (e.g. in staff meeting) regarding discussion section for a paper
  • outline of discussion section for a paper (based on team dialogue)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health clinics: An architectural precedent study

Suitable for

This project is project is open to applications from advanced students (eg M. Arch or BA Hons student), with a background and interest in architecture and/or Indigenous studies and/or human health.

Project duration

8~10 weeks (negotiable)

Supervisors
Background 

The summer scholar will contribute to an interdisciplinary study of healthcare architecture led by the Aboriginal Environments Research Centre and the Institute of Social Science Research. The research team is interested in the effects of design on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience and use of healthcare settings. The summer scholar’s project will examine the design of Indigenous health clinics through a comparison of recent buildings from different locations in Australia. The student will attempt to evaluate the architectural responses to general and specific social and cultural factors identified in the broader research project.

This research will contribute to the ARC discovery grant concerned with the design of Indigenous health care settings.

Aims
  • The student will prepare a comparative study of Indigenous clinics that analyses each architectural project against a set of design criteria.
Key tasks
  • Conduct a literature search on the historical and policy background to Indigenous health clinics
  • Literature and web search to identify case studies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait health clinics across Australia
  • Select and analyse the precedents
  • Prepare a report on the case studies.

Deliverables:

Scholars will gain experience in literature based data research. Research tasks will include:

  • Identification of Indigenous health clinics by scoping government website and available literature to find examples of Indigenous health clinics in remote, region and urban areas of Australia
  • Develop skills in architectural evaluation.
  • Produce report and bibliography for the project.

“Closing the Gap” and “Leaving no-one behind”: a comparative analysis of Closing the Gap and Sustainable Development Goals metrics

Suitable for

The project would suit final year undergraduates, honours or masters students in public health, development studies, international relations, or political science.

Project duration

10 weeks 

Supervisors
Background 

The Closing the Gap (CTG) campaign has been a commitment of the Commonwealth of Australian Governments since 2008, with a range of metrics reported each year, with health located within its social determinants. In 2015, the Australian government endorsed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), successors to the Millennium Development Goals. The difference with these new goals is their universality—their application to developed economies as well as developing economies. This studies compares the metrics decided for CTG with the relevant targets and indicators for Indigenous health in Australia under the SDGs, and explores the extent to which this international commitment may impact on achieving CTG targets.

The study is part of a larger planned research project examining the links between policy for Indigenous Australians and international and global policies for health and development.

Aims

To explore the differences and commonalities between the targets and indicators set under the Closing the Gap campaign with the Sustainable Development Goals, and the potential for synergies between these two processes for Indigenous health.

Key tasks
  • Compare the policy framing for the CTG campaign and the SDGs, and its implications for Australian Indigenous health
  • Identify and compare relevant targets and indicators for Indigenous health in the CTG campaign and the SDGs
  • Map progress against the CTG and SDG indicators on available data
  • Analyse, explore and discuss the findings in a draft document suitable for peer reviewed publication.

What is the best evaluation model for community based Aged Care services?

Suitable For

Students studying in the fields of health or behavioural sciences. 

Length of project    

10 weeks, 20 hours per week. Preferred commencement date 21/11/16

Project Supervision    

A/Prof Christine Brown-Wilson

A/Prof Jon Willis

Background    

The Institute for Indigenous Urban Health have developed a responsive Primary Health care model aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in the community. This summer scholarship offers the student the opportunity to be involved in the development of an evaluation strategy for this service. 

Aims  

This project will consist of a systematic review to identify the best evidence for community based service evaluation leading on to the development of an evaluation protocol. The supervisory team will support the review process and provide mentorship in the analysis and writing for publication. The successful candidate will be supported in developing an action plan to ensure project is completed on time.
 

What does person centred care mean for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in residential aged care?

Suitable For

Students studying in the fields of health or behavioural sciences. 

Length of project    

10 weeks, 20 hours per week. Preferred commencement date 21/11/16

Project Supervision    

A/Prof Christine Brown-Wilson

A/Prof Jon Willis

Background    

Person centred care is a key philosophy across aged care services. It is not always clear what organizations mean by person cetnred care or whether this is always the most appropriate philosophy. This project explores the evidence for person centred care by undertaking a systematic literature review and concept analysis.  This review will lay the foundations to explore the meaning of person centred care for indigenous older people, families and staff in residential aged care facilities.  

Aims  

This project will lead to a publication and the development of a proposal for an exploratory study to speak with older people, families, and professional caregivers in indigenous run residential aged care facilities.  The supervisory team will support the review process and provide mentorship in the analysis and writing for publication. The successful candidate will be supported in developing an action plan to ensure project is completed on time.

Our Stories, Our Way: Cultural Identities and health and wellbeing of Indigenous young people in diverse school settings

Suitable For

3rd and 4th year students in Education, Health Sciences, Humanities & Social Sciences preferably with understanding of and/or experience working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

Length of project    

10 weeks 

Project Supervision    

Dr Chelsea Bond (ATSIS Unit) 

Background    

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013 – 2023 recognises the centrality of culture to health and well-being for Indigenous Peoples, identifying “strengthening pride in identity and culture” as a key strategy in improving the health of Indigenous adolescents and early teens (2013, 35). Yet there is a distinct lack of research that investigates culture, identity, health and well-being of Indigenous young people. The evidence base for articulating a definitive relationship between Aboriginal identity and better health is inhibited by historical and contemporary health research practice, whereby Aboriginality is largely examined in the context of how it produces illness, rather than how it might protect against it (Bond, 2007). The absence of evidence here is reflective of Western imaginings of health and Aboriginality, rather than the lack of a relationship between Aboriginality and health (Dockery, 2011). There is a stronger evidence base in the international literature exploring and explaining the link between better health outcomes and a positive sense of one’s ethnic identity either via racial socialisation or enculturation. There have been a small number of studies that explore the significance of cultural identity of young people in schooling contexts however they rarely consider how this relationship is connected to health and well-being. Several Indigenous scholars (Sarra, 2011; Kickett-Tucker, 2008; Shay, 2015) have argued for a stronger focus on education to support and strengthen the cultural identities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people as a means to improve engagement of Indigenous students. Despite these calls, little is known about how schools are engaging in healthy identity affirming practice with Indigenous young people. 

Aims  

Led by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research team with disciplinary expertise in health and education, this project aims to address the knowledge gap in our understandings of identity, health and education through privileging Indigenous knowledge and experience. 

The proposed project will explore the importance of cultural identity to health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people being educated in diverse school settings across Australia. It aims to co-construct spaces where the physical/cultural/social/emotional and spiritual well-being of young people is supported and their voices centred.

Key tasks    
  • Conduct a literature search
  • Assistance with development and preparation of data collection instruments
  • Attendance at research team meetings and workshops 
  • Administrative support to research team 
  • Support with coordination of research workshops and events
     

High Intensity Interval Training in cardiac rehabilitation

Suitable For

This project is suitable for 2nd and 3rd year students, or Master level students, having completed nutrition science (NUTR2101 and /or 3201). It would be ideal for a student who has an interest in studying dietetics. Indigenous candidates only will be supported by a Poche Centre Scholarship. 

Length of project    

6 weeks 

Project Supervision    

Professor Jeff Combes

Background    

It is now well established that high intensity interval training (HIIT) can improve cardiorespiratory fitness by almost double that of moderate intensity continuous training, making it an effective way to improve outcomes in cardiometabolic disease. Less is known about HIIT’s effect on visceral fat, body composition, inflammation, and dietary behaviour.

Aim 

To investigate whether HIIT is practical in a real world cardiac rehabilitation setting, and whether it also leads to greater improvements in visceral fat, body composition, inflammation, and dietary regulation.

Key tasks    

The successful applicant will:

  • Participate in trial organisation, exercise testing, body composition assessment, and dietary assessment and analysis.
  • Enter the raw data on dietary intake in the Foodworks software (training will be provided)
  • Receive training in the processing and storage of bloods for later analysis.

Dose Response Effectiveness of External Counterpulsation in Type II Diabetes

Suitable For

This project is suitable for students with an exercise physiology background and/or interest. Indigenous candidates only will be supported by a Poche Centre Scholarship. 

Length of project    

6 weeks 

Project Supervision    

Dr Llion Roberts l.roberts2@uq.edu.au or contact Professor Jeff Combes

Background  and Aim

This clinical trial will investigate the dose-response (differing durations) effects of regular External Counterpulsation (ECP) therapy on cardiovascular adaptation in Type II diabetic patients. Patients undertake 7-weeks of regular therapy, 3 times a week; before having their cardiovascular function assessed before, after, 4-weeks after and 7-weeks after the end of the intervention.

Key tasks    

The scholar will gain insights and skills into cardiovascular-specific data collection, along with scientific data collection, acquisition and interpretation skills per se. The scholar will also have the opportunity to acquire and implement skills in ultrasonography, maximal exercise testing, resting and exercising ECG interpretation, and pulse-wave and autonomic function analysis.

High-intensity interval exercise training for participants with type 2 diabetes

Suitable For

Students interested in gaining experience in a variety of physiological tests in human movement and working with individuals with chronic disease. Indigenous candidates only will be supported by a Poche Centre Scholarship. 

Length of project    

10 weeks 

Project Supervision    

Professor Jeff Combes

Background    

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) is a rapidly developing worldwide epidemic as a result of an ageing population, undefined genetic factors, and human behaviour and lifestyle changes as a result of urbanisation. Blood glucose control is a tightly coordinated process and relies on a balance between the rate of glucose appearance and the rate of glucose disappearance in the blood, however, in T2D hyperglycaemia is observed where there is an inability to maintain homeostatic blood glucose concentration. Traditional exercise programs beneficial for T2D is of long-duration at moderate intensities. This can be a problem since lack of time is often cited as a limitation to participating in exercise. Therefore, it would be beneficial to have an exercise program that can gain metabolic adaptations similar to exercise of longer durations, but be performed in a shorter time. High-intensity interval exercise training (HIIT), which consists of repeated bursts of high-intensity activity, separated by periods of recovery or activity of a relatively lower intensity, provides an excellent alternative option to traditional exercise of long-duration.

Key tasks    

Compare the effects of HIIT and moderate intensity exercise on glycaemic control, fitness, strength, autonomic function, arterial stiffness, and vascular function in T2D. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to participate in the collection of physiological data in a clinical population including oxygen uptake during an exercise stress test, functional strength, Biodex, and arterial stiffness. There will also be opportunities to participate in trial organisation and in the well-being of a clinical population.

Jordan Cory
As part of her Summer Research Project, Jordan evaluated and redeveloped a tool for occupational and speech therapists working with Indigenous school children on a range of difficulties that make learning or school participation challenging.