News : Article

Genome project helps close Indigenous health gap

Graphic: Aboriginal flag represented as jigsaw pieces

Genomics enables information about our DNA to be used for diagnosis and treatment of disease.

An extraordinary project that captures the genome sequences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is underway to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not left behind by advances in medical science.


Watch a video of the "Rights Talk" discussion at: https://youtu.be/FEC6NPWsXKE

Professor Simon Easteal, director of the National Centre for Indigenous Genomics, held a public discussion with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, at the Australian Human Rights Commission on 20 June 2016.


Professor Easteal explained how the study of genomes can help close the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The science of genomics is driving a host of new discoveries and technologies that are transforming medical practice, he said.

Genomics enables information about our DNA to be used for diagnosis and treatment of disease.

We know a lot about the genomes of people of European ancestry, but much less about the genomes of people from other parts of the world, and almost nothing at all about the genomes of Indigenous Australians, Professor Easteal said.

Without this knowledge, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be excluded from many of the benefits that flow from human genomics research.

The National Centre for Indigenous Genomics, led by an Indigenous-majority board, is working with Indigenous communities to create a database of genome sequences that will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not left behind as medical science advances.

The National Centre is also creating a framework to ensure that Indigenous Australians are included, in ways they decide, in the health, economic, educational and social benefits of advances in genome science.

Date: 21 June 2016

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission


Image credits

  1. Aboriginal flag represented as jigsaw pieces - Michael Coghlan, Flickr; http://bit.ly/28VM6tM