Aboriginal Environments Research Centre

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PhD Scholarships to study Indigenous healthcare architecture

Published: Monday, 18 January, 2016

PhD Scholarships to study Indigenous healthcare architecture

Scholarships are available to Australian and New Zealand citizens for PhD study as part of the project: ”Understanding Indigenous experiences of architectural settings to improve Indigenous health outcomes: Does design matter?” This is an Australian Research Council funded Discovery Project led by Prof Paul Memmott, and Dr Timothy O’Rourke from the AERC, with Prof. Michele Haynes and Dr Bernard Baffour from the Institute for Social Science Research at The University of Queensland. Prof Memmott and Dr O’Rourke will supervise the successful applicants who chose to focus on architectural questions related to healthcare design for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The project would suit applicants with degrees in architecture, planning, anthropology and social science.

There are two scholarships:

UQ National Grant Scheme Project (APA), which closes 7 February 2015 and must commence by 30 June 2016.
ARC PhD Scholarship closes on 22 April commencing 30 August 2016.

The scholarships have the conditions of an Australian Postgraduate Award with a stipend of AUD$26,288 per annum (2016 rate, indexed annually) for three years. Candidates are required to be resident in Brisbane. Additional funding may be available for candidates undertaking fieldwork in remote or regional areas. There are no tuition fees due for Australian and New Zealand citizens.  Online applications are now open. Further advice is on PhD study at UQ available from the UQ Graduate School. Interested applicants are encouraged to read the project description website and then to contact Dr Timothy O’Rourke directly.

Project summary

The significance of cross-cultural design principles and practice is recognized for particular building types but poorly understood in healthcare architecture, despite the untenable state of Indigenous health. Preliminary evidence suggests that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fail to present for health care until chronically ill, due to fear or dislike of health services and their settings. Across a range of institutional scales and service delivery settings, this research aims to understand how the design of particular settings affect Indigenous people’s use, experience and perceptions of hospitals and clinics. Developing innovative and adaptable research methods, we aim to establish the programmatic principles and architectural qualities that lead to improved Indigenous healthcare participation, user experience and health outcomes, reducing the disparity in health for the most marginalized Australians.

The goal of this research project is to improve the experience and use of healthcare architecture for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  Our aim is to identify the best design principles and practices through an analysis of existing clinics and hospitals and surveys of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users.

The overarching research question is: “When it comes to health service engagement, does design matter to Indigenous people, and how does it affect their decisions around accessing health care?” This aim is further articulated in the following four research questions:

What are the typical architectural characteristics of existing healthcare settings?

What is the relative importance of setting in attracting or preventing Indigenous access health services?

What are Indigenous people’s perceptions of healthcare settings (both positive & negative attributes)?

What are the setting design elements and strategies that promote Indigenous access to healthcare?