Mater Researchers work to Close the Gap for Queensland families

Thursday 16 March 2023

For over a decade, on the third Thursday in March each year, Australians from all over the nation have shown their support by pledging to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation.

Researchers from Mater Research’s Queensland Family Cohort (QFC) are working to Close the Gap and improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in a Queensland major cohort study. The study is working alongside families to understand the health of mothers, partners and babies during pregnancy, following birth and into young adulthood by looking at the causes of disease and long-term outcomes to establish risk factors and health outcomes.

The landmark research project aims to recruit 10,000 Queensland families, including 2,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, toward understanding how parental health and other influences including the environment during pregnancy and in the early years after birth, influence disease development later on.

Participants provide health information through surveys and provide some biological samples, with the data then analysed to identify positive drivers of health and the risk factors for disease.

While most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have healthy pregnancies, they are at higher risk of premature birth, stillbirth and poorer postnatal health outcomes for both mother and baby. Brooklyn Doomadgee, who is of Aboriginal descent, gave birth to son Beckham at 28 weeks' gestation, weighing in at just a tiny 1.3kg. After spending his first seven weeks in the Mater Mothers’ Hospital Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU), Brooklyn is thriving at home, now weighing 6.4kg.

“He has been amazing. He has been eating solids since January, he will eat anything we eat, he loves just chewing on meat. He has also started baby modelling,” Brooklyn said.

Associate Professor Kym Rae, Principal Research Fellow in Indigenous Health at Mater Research said it is such a privilege to work alongside the Aboriginal communities and learn more about the culture of our First Peoples.

“Equally, working with communities to develop research that helps communities to self-determine their research focus, will improve the health outcomes for the entire family.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have reduced life expectancy because of these chronic diseases. They also have significant strengths and resilience in managing health using holistic approaches. That’s why we want to work alongside these communities to develop clear paths to better health,” Associate Professor Rae said.

Please contact us at to discuss how we can work together to achieve outcomes for the Queensland population.