Global Change Institute Flagship Projects are a chance to undertake interdisciplinary research on global change issues. Photo: iStock
Global Change Institute Flagship Projects are a chance to undertake interdisciplinary research on global change issues. Photo: iStock

Global Change Flagship Projects

GCI provides up to $120,000 over two years to support Flagship Project researchers who are passionate about finding solutions to global challenges.


UQ partners with Aboriginal health clinic to expose urgent needs for health housing to prevent coronavirus transmission

The University of Queensland is proud to release a new report regarding crowding, public housing malfunction and infectious disease transmission in remote Indigenous communities and towns.

It features a case study of Tennant Creek and the Barkly region NT. It was conducted as a partnership between Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation and The University of Queensland, funded by a Global Change Flagship grant.

In this time of coronavirus risks, the virus has been noted to spread rapidly within families and within households. Indigenous Australians have high levels of existing health conditions, and this places them at greater risk of serious health outcomes if they contract coronavirus.

The report, ‘Pilyii Papulu Purrukaj-ji (Good housing to prevent sickness): A study of housing, crowding and hygiene-related infectious diseases in the Barkly Region, Northern Territory’, draws data from a clinical database, a survey of households in town and bush communities, and interviews with clinicians and public health staff of the Anyinginyi clinic. The data provide a ‘snapshot in time’ of the health status, housing quality and crowding levels.

Key points from the report are:

  • Health and housing are linked: Housing and crowding are critical to health: sufficient, well-maintained housing infrastructure can support healthy living practices for hygiene, nutrition and safety. A lack of functioning ‘health hardware’ (showers, toilets, hot water, fridges) increases the transmission risk of hygiene-related infectious diseases.
  • Crowding is chronic: There are much higher levels of crowding in bush communities and in town than officially recorded, with an average of 10.8 people, and up to 22 people per house.
  • Infectious diseases are prevalent in very high rates: There are high rates of preventable, hygiene-related infectious diseases in the bush communities and towns, especially skin infections (boils, sores, scabies and school sores), respiratory infections (upper and lower respiratory tract), and ear, nose and throat infections (middle ear/otitis media, tonsillitis, ear canal and pharyngitis/sore throat).
  • Repeat infections can lead to chronic conditions and early death: Longer term, chronic kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease are the outcome of repeated infection.
  • Housing repairs and new builds are urgently required: New housing is required to reduce current crowding, yet no new housing has been built in at least 12 years in the Barkly region. Housing repairs are often delayed.

Download the report: [3 MB PDF]. For additional details, contact lead researcher Dr Nina Hall, The University of Queensland,

Safe  Water:  A  safe,  sustainable  water  supply  for  remoteā€living  Indigenous Australians

  • Prof. Wendy Hoy, UQ, School of Clinical Medicine, Centre for Chronic Disease & NHMRC CRE in Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Dr Nina Lansbury Hall, UQ, School of Public Health (SPH), Environment Health Unit
  • Dr Ian Stewart, UQ, Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences
  • Dr Claire Brolan, UQ, Centre for Policy Futures

Download proceedings from the 2018 Safe Water Summit here.

A copy of the original program is also available.

The Safe Water collaboration includes internal and external partners (more details here).


Small Islands Initiative for a Plastic Free Ocean

  • Dr Anna Phelan, UQ Business School
  • Prof. Helen Ross, UQ School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
  • A/Prof. Lisa Ruhanen, UQ Business School
  • Dr Carl Smith, UQ Business School,
  • A/Prof. Kelly Fielding, UQ School of Communication and Arts
  • Prof. Mark Moran, UQ Institute for Social Science Research


GCI Sustainability Ambassadors project

  • Professor Nancy A. Pachana, clinical geropsychologist, neuropsychologist and Professor in the UQ School of Psychology
  • Community partner, Council on the Ageing
  • Professor Mick Smyer, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, USA

Enhancing Australian Indigenous health and wellbeing through community-led environmental, social and infrastructural systems solutions

  • Dr Nina Lansbury HALL, UQ School of Public Health – Environment Health Unit
  • Carroll GO-SAM, UQ School of Architecture – Aboriginal Environments Research Centre
  • Professor Paul MEMMOTT, UQ Institute for Social Science Research
  • Professor Jane HUNTER, UQ School of Information Technology – eResearch Group

External investigators

  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance (NATSIWA): Sandra CREAMER, CEO; Wendy ANDERS, Senior Policy Advisor
  • University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Eye Health Group in the Centre for Health Equality: Professor Hugh TAYLOR; Emma STANFORD; Fiona LANGE
  • Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney: Dr Tim FOSTER

Project Summary:

This project responds to the urgent global change challenges of health-related hygiene with regard to life expectation equality for Indigenous people, infectious disease control, and water availability in remote Australia.

It proposes using a systems-based approach for solutions-focused, community-led outcomes that seeks to enhance the health and wellbeing of Australian Indigenous people living in remote communities.

The four project partners at UQ will work in an interdisciplinary collaboration with Indigenous partners, medical experts and sustainability researchers to understand and respond to the ‘system’ of environmental, social and infrastructural changes that could prevent the spread of hygiene infections.

A case study focus on trachoma eye infection will provide the ‘entry point’ for a systems-wide investigation.


The GCI’s first Flagship Project involved investigators from UQ’s School of Social Science; the School of Political Science and International Studies; and School of Economics.

Project partners include:

The project – ‘We Are The People From That Land: Centring Indigenous peoples’ rights in the transition to a sustainable, low carbon future’ – will explore the international Indigenous movement that is re-imagining human rights and social and economic development in the global era of scarce water resources, climate change and energy transition.




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