Researcher biography

Associate Professor Steve Bell is a Principal Research Fellow in the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Queensland. He is an applied health and social researcher with 20 years’ experience of qualitative, participatory and ethnographic research on sexual, reproductive and maternal health, HIV and other infectious diseases. He is currently working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in urban, regional and remote settings across Australia, and excluded and oppressed communities in Asia and the Pacific (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea). Based in academic, research consultancy and non-governmental organisations, he has undertaken previous research and evaluation work in countries in Africa (Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and Asia (India and Nepal).

Steve works in partnership with communities, community organisations and government institutions to build understandings of people’s everyday experiences of health, structures of oppression that maintain health inequalities, and community action that effects change. He specialises in the use of community-based methods and interpretive approaches to access and amplify excluded voices, knowledges, worldviews and priorities, and is committed to prioritising community expertise and leadership to strengthen health programs, services, polices and outcomes. He has published two edited collections in these areas: ‘Peer research in health and social development: international perspectives on participatory research’ (2021), and ‘Monitoring and evaluation in health and social development: interpretive and ethnographic perspectives’ (2016). He is Joint Editor, Sexual Health journal and Member of the International Editorial Advisory Board for Culture, Health & Sexuality.

Current research

Current research projects include a focus on:

  • Aboriginal men’s perspectives on health in South East Queensland
  • Yarning about institutional racism in healthcare practice the ‘proppa way’
  • Transforming access, relational care, and primary health care in an urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population through patient-centred medical homes
  • Using peer research approaches to understand Aboriginal young people’s sexual well-being in urban NSW
  • Aboriginal youth-led rapid qualitative assessments of COVID-19 needs and experiences in urban NSW
  • Young women's and men's experiences of pregnancy in Papua New Guinea
  • Socio-cultural dimensions of tuberculosis, diagnosis, prevention and care in Papua New Guinea
  • Socialising biomedical approaches to HIV testing, treatment and care among key populations in PNG, Indonesia and Uganda
  • Sexual health experiences and needs of sexually and gender diverse young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including Sistergirls and Brotherboys, in NSW
  • Youth-centred co-design research with Aboriginal young people to enhance accessibility of age, gender and culturally appropriate sexual health promotion and clinical services in regional and metropolitan NSW

PhD supervision

Steve has a keen interest in mentoring and training community, doctoral and early career researchers in rigorous qualitative health research. Please do reach out for a chat if you’re interested in undertaking qualitative PhD research on any of the following areas:

  • Urban Indigenous health
  • Community action, activism and resistance for social justice and health equity
  • The transformative role of community-controlled approaches to health service provision in tackling health inequities
  • Sexual, reproductive and maternal health studies that centre the agency of Indigenous peoples in Australia and other international settings
  • Critical approaches to community-led health promotion and health service delivery
  • Community-based HIV research with key populations that centres community-led innovation in HIV testing, treatment and care

Recent PhD supervision experience includes:

  • ‘HIV prevention among men who have sex with men and female sex workers in Uganda’, by Lydia Nakiganda, due to submit in 2022 (In progress; Associate Advisor).
  • 'Drug use practices and changing HIV risk environments: the lived experiences of people who use drugs in Jakarta, Indonesia' by Anindita Sudewo, due to submit in November 2021 (In progress; Principal Advisor)
  • 'Navigating the social dynamics of HIV care: A qualitative study in urban Indonesia in the era of scaled-up testing and treatment', by Dr Elan Lazuardi, now a Lecturer in Anthropology at Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (Successfully completed, 2020; Principal Advisor)
  • 'Socio-ecological factors influencing access to and use of HIV testing, treatment and care services in fishing communities around Lake Victoria in Uganda', by Dr Christopher Tumwine, now a Lecturer in Medical Sociology at Kabale University in Kabale, Uganda (Successfully completed, 2019; Principal Advisor)