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Research projects

The Aboriginal Ageing Well Research team conduct health and wellbeing research to benefit older Aboriginal Australians. This important work is done through collaboration.  Our partners are based around Australia and the World. 
The partnership is led by Professor Dawn Bessarab and Dr Kate Smith. Our work has led to new information and changes to health services.

Dementia prevention and risk Management Program for Aboriginal Australians (DAMPAA)


The Dementia prevention and risk Management Program for Aboriginal Australians also known as DAMPAA aims to produce a Aboriginal Health Practitioner coordinated program to reduce cognitive decline in Aboriginal people aged 45 years and over. It is being evaluated through a randomised controlled trial at three WA Aboriginal community controlled health services and targets key dementia risk factors, including physical inactivity, falls, head injury, cardiovascular factors. This project is due to finish in 2023.



Good Spirit Good Life Quality of Life tool

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Prior to its development there was no appropriate quality of life assessment for older Aboriginal people in Australia or internationally. The lack of appropriate quality of life (QoL) measures is a major barrier to planning and delivering health and aged care services for older Indigenous peoples worldwide. The Good Spirit Good Life assessment tool and framework is the first culturally sensitive quality of life tool. This package was developed for use by health and aged care services to identify and enhance the quality of life of older Aboriginal Australians, and to evaluate the success of strategies. It was developed with Aboriginal Elders and service providers in Perth and Melbourne.

The GSGL package can be downloaded for free in the members section of this site.
We would appreciate it if you would credit the UWA Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health when you use this tool. Any updates to the GSGL package will be made on this site.

Kimberley Indigenous Cognitive Assessment (KICA)


The Kimberley Indigenous Cognitive Assessment was developed and validated by the Aboriginal Ageing Well Team in partnership with Aboriginal communities and services in response to the need for a cognitive screening tool for dementia in older Indigenous Australians (45 years plus).  The KICA tool comprises of a number of sections, including a valid cognitive assessment, depression scale, and carer report. The KICA tool is now widely used across Australia (urban/regional, Torres Strait Islander, and original remote version available), is incorporated into health and aged care practice, and has been adapted for use with other Indigenous peoples internationally in collaboration with the Aboriginal Ageing Well team.


The KICA can be freely downloaded in the members section of this site.


We would appreciate it if you would credit the UWA WA Centre for Health & Ageing when you use this tool. Any updates to the KICA will be made on this site.

Healthy Ageing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Populations (HATS)


Defining and predicting Healthy Ageing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Populations (HATS) project aim is to deliver a framework of healthy ageing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. We will do this using a community-directed care approach that will take into account the importance of Inner Spirit and connection to community, family and Country.  The framework will be used to directly inform policy, practice and the implementation of enabling and preventative strategies to address the still present gap in average life expectancy and high burden of disease within this population. The project will ensure culturally safe decision making throughout the duration of the program via extensive consultation and collaboration with community councils and elders.

Other Research Collaborations

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We collaborate on research projects with the International Indigenous Dementia Research Network with researchers from Canada, Australia, Brazil, USA and New Zealand. 

We also coordinate the WA sites and staff for four other Aboriginal Ageing projects with collaborating institutions:

  • Let’s CHAT (Community Health Approaches To) Dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities: A national project partnership between the University of Melbourne, UWA, James Cook University, Neuroscience Research Australia and 12 Aboriginal Community-controlled Health Services to develop and implement a best-practice model of care for cognitive impairment and dementia in Indigenous primary care.

  • Dementia Risk Reduction project: A James Cook University study to reduce dementia risk in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This project will use a Participatory Action Research approach to enable communities to identify and prioritise dementia risk reduction strategies/potential risk and protective factors. Using a Continuous Quality Improvement Framework, primary health care centres will address modifiable dementia risk factors identified to change practice and systems through the development of culturally appropriate interventions.   

  • The Healthy Ageing Research Team HART: HART are an interprofessional group of clinician-based researchers at James Cook University and Cairns Hospital.  Their research priorities are driven by community identified priorities and clinical need with particular focus on better ways to deliver health services through integrated care models as well as improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

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