"My first dream for the Menzies School was to establish a centre for research excellence. The second dream was to somehow make a difference in Aboriginal health,” Professor John Mathews, founding director.
Menzies School of Health Research was a bold idea conceived in the mid-1970s. It was a joint venture between the Menzies Foundation, the Northern Territory Government and the University of Sydney.
At the core of its early vision was a commitment to examining, understanding and improving Indigenous health, as well the health of those living in Northern Australia and the tropics.
Established as part of the Northern Territory University, now Charles Darwin University, Menzies’ path from inception to operation took roughly ten years.
Menzies began its work in temporary facilities on the grounds of Royal Darwin Hospital in 1984 under the stewardship of its first director, Professor John Mathews.
Augmenting its funding base through competitive research grants, Menzies expanded in the late 1980s.
In 1986 it opened a second research facility in Alice Springs. This enabled greater reach into Aboriginal communities and a wider evidence base from which to develop projects and policy recommendations that lifted health status.
In 1996, Menzies moved into a new, purpose-built building adjacent to Royal Darwin Hospital. Two years earlier it had begun offering postgraduate coursework in public health.
The following decade Menzies opened offices in South Australia and Queensland.
In the mid to late 2000s, it evolved its vision and operations to study and respond to the most urgent of health needs with a multifaceted, holistic approach.
Menzies embarked on collaborations with experts from fields such as education and housing. It opened a second Darwin office in the suburb of Winnellie in 2008 – partly to house researchers from this expanding set of disciplines.
In the past decade Menzies has experienced enormous development and growth. To facilitate this growth Menzies initiated a new multi-million dollar building project, jointly funded by the Australian Government, Northern Territory Government and Charles Darwin University. The new buildings, on the Royal Darwin Hospital campus and Charles Darwin University campus were completed in 2014 and officially opened by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in November 2015.