This year’s award, to Dr Josie Povey and her team, is the latest in continuing support for Menzies’ talented researchers. 

Harry Christian Giese AM MBE (1913-2000) was a pioneer of health and education in north Australia and a key founder of the Menzies School of Health Research. From the late 1970s, he was on the National Executive of the Menzies Foundation, and later the School’s Board, until 1995. He served the people of the Northern Territory for 50 years. In memory of his work, the Giese Family, with Menzies developed the Harry Christian Giese Research into Action Award. This has supported Menzies’ dedicated researchers since 2013. 

Josie’s project will build on work done during 2019-20 through the Ngawurramangajirri (‘We care for each other’) initiative. In collaboration with community leaders, a Tiwi-language digital resource for mental health and wellbeing will be created, developed and distributed. The aim is to improve mental health literacy, self-awareness and self-management, while strengthening connections to language and culture. 

"We want to give people ways of recognising and talking about the challenges they face, such as caring for families, bereavement, grief and shame," said Josie.

"Together we’ll come up with resources that are strengths-based, engaging and relevant, that explore worries and goals for change, and incorporate best practice approaches to design and treatment."

Cathy Pumuralimawu Stassi, co-lead of the project and Tiwi Elder, said, "we are helping our people to keep our culture strong, respect each other and look after ourselves and others, our land and our creators, Purrukupali and his mother, Muntakala."

Earlier research has identified a real need for messaging to reach disadvantaged and vulnerable young people, including new parents. Josie's project will be part of the Australia-wide Stay Strong Program. There will be opportunities for collaboration with partner organisations and integration into existing work.

Earlier winners of the Award have moved on to develop their careers and improve the health of people in many different communities. Dr Bianca Middleton's (2022) work in validating the Vaccine Barriers Assessment Tool (VBAT) to encourage early childhood vaccination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, aims eventually to be part of a national roll-out. 

Dr Gabrielle McCallum received this award in 2013, to champion the translation of lung health research into medical practice. Today, her team are studying children hospitalised in Australia and New Zealand for lower respiratory infections and are extending this work to Timor-Leste. She is also completing the editing of a special series, Frontiers in Paediatrics. A gap in the delivery of clinical care to paediatric patients with bronchiectasis, chronic lung disease, as they move into adolescence, has also been discovered. 

Associate Professor Matthew Grigg (2014 award recipient) is part of a malaria study across eight sites in Indonesia, including human surveillance for zoonotic malaria; monkey camera estimates; mosquito trapping; and geospatial analysis of human risk of infection. A new Malaysian Army cohort study will look at exposure to zoonotic infections and malaria in those posted to remote forest areas. Matthew's post-doc student Jacob Westaway is analysing parasite strains from East Malaysian monkeys, to see if any are associated with transmission or disease severity in humans. 

Associate Professor Kamala Ley-Thriemer (2018 award recipient) sends out a regular newsletter about work on clinical malaria trials with communities in Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia. This was started during the COVID-19 lockdowns, when travel and on-the-ground networking became impossible. Visit the Malaria 'EFFORT' project page to read past editions of the newsletter. 

Associate Professor Renae Kirkham (2017 award recipient) is Lead of the Diabetes across the Lifecourse: Northern Australian Partnership, supporting a program with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to break the cycle of type 2 diabetes. 

Professor Jaquelyne Hughes (2016 award recipient), is the first Indigenous kidney specialist, and Matthew Flinders Professor at the College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University. Professor Gail Garvey (2015 award recipient) is NHMRC Leadership Fellow at the University of Queensland, Faculty of Medicine, working in cancer care.  

The winners' ongoing projects all strengthen medical education, research and training in remote and regional communities.