Capacity building in remote communities

As well as fostering skills internally, Menzies forges relationships with local communities to deliver courses, qualifications and training – determined according to the needs and wishes of local residents and elders. Our aim is to go beyond the role of the traditional researcher: collecting data and focussing solely on analysis. 

"The way we do research projects has changed. People in communities want accredited training that they can use elsewhere. They want skills; they want to be employed.” –  Therese Kearns, Menzies research nurse and epidemiologist.

To combat scabies in East Arnhem Land region of the Northern Territory, Menzies ‘scabies and strongyloides project’ team has learnt the effectiveness of medically training locally-based, Indigenous workers.

In 2012, Menzies trained 15 community members in a Certificate 2 course in Child Health Research, six through a phlebotomy (blood-taking) course and three through a medication skills-assist qualification. We also organised first aid training with the help of Red Cross. Sixty community members received first aid certificates as a result.

“Our projects are designed to build capacity in communities by providing real qualifications that give people real jobs across a number of different health projects,” Therese Kearns, Menzies research nurse and epidemiologist, says.

In the community of Galiwin’ku, a total of 1,300 men, women and children participated in the project between March 2010 and August 2012. Following training, community researchers were able to describe to participants the project in Yolngu language, to successfully perform skin screening, phlebotomy and medication administration activities.

Photo: Sisters Jane and Meghan with their certificates at Galiwin'ku Recognising and Respecting Yolngu Contribution to Research Day, May 2012.