Health research seeks fresh perspectives: A call to Indian-Australian women for greater representation

By Our Reporter
Pic supplied

In an era where inclusivity and representation are more than just buzzwords, an alarming concern has been raised about the underrepresentation of Indian women in health research. Lamentably, crucial health policies and guidelines, predominantly based on data from individuals of European heritage, continue to miss out on the diverse health risk profiles that lurk within Australia’s rich cultural tapestry.

For instance, women of Indian descent are known to have elevated risks of diabetes and heart disease. Moreover, they experience a different spectrum of menopausal symptoms compared to their European counterparts. Despite these differences, data that could potentially help tailor health services to address these unique needs remains scant.

Hoping to correct this skewed representation is Professor Gita Mishra, director of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health at The University of Queensland. Asserting the significance of comprehensive research in shaping effective policies, Mishra underscores the need for the voices of all communities to resonate within the data that informs critical health decisions.

Launched in 1996, the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health is the largest and longest-running research project of its kind in Australia. Funded by the Australian Government, the study has surveyed over 57,000 women about their health and wellbeing, providing invaluable insights that have been instrumental in shaping federal and state government policies on myriad issues impacting women’s health.

Crucially, the study employs a longitudinal approach, periodically resurveying the same women to glean insights into evolving health needs across different life stages. However, a quarter of a century since its inception, the study finds itself grappling with a vital concern.

In 1996, the participant profile accurately reflected the Australian population. However, with India emerging as the top country of birth among permanent migrants to Australia in recent years, the study’s participant profile has lost its representative edge. Presently, while nearly 3 in every 100 Australians boast Indian heritage, less than 1 in 1000 participants in the study identify with the same heritage.

Recognising this stark discrepancy, the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health is extending a welcoming hand to the Indian community. Spearheading the recruitment drive is Reema Naresh, excitedly championing this as an unparalleled opportunity for the Indian community to make its voice heard.

Naresh points out that the study’s holistic approach to health will strike a chord with Indian Australian women, as it aligns with the culture’s recognition of various social, psychological, economic, and environmental factors influencing women’s wellbeing. Envisioning the immense potential this study holds for improving healthcare across all communities, Naresh fervently invites Indian women aged between 28-24 and 45-50 to join the study.

In her words, “It is an opportunity to be part of something so much bigger than yourself.” To participate, interested individuals can visit or get in touch with Reema Naresh via

In a nutshell, the study offers a significant platform for Indian women to help shape health services that are more attuned to their unique needs. By participating, they can potentially help redefine the one-size-fits-all approach in health policy. This is the chance to curry up and make a difference, to spice up women’s health research and make the future of healthcare more inclusive.

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