Who We Are

Our Research

Falls in older people can result in severe injuries and loss of mobility. Our research has shown that for older Aboriginal people falls are a priority health issue, with a significant impact on their health and well-being.

The Ironbark Fall Prevention Program was developed and evaluated in partnership with Aboriginal urban and regional communities in NSW and WA and government stakeholders, academics and health service providers. The program developed because, despite the need, there are few fall prevention programs used by older Aboriginal people, or available in community settings.

The program was initially developed and piloted in NSW, with the results published in 2018. The evaluation showed that people who participated in the program had significant improvements in leg strength, balance and gait speed. There was a statistically significant decrease in participant Body Mass Index (BMI), and participants reported enjoying the program.



The Ironbark Trial was then funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to test the effectiveness of the program in improving strength and balance, compared to a healthy ageing program. The trial recruited 21 sites across NSW and WA.

Data collection is now complete for the trial, with results being analysed and interpreted, and eventually communicated with all of the stakeholders involved. Results will be posted on this website when available.

Ironbark Program – Mirrabooka, WA

Check out the video from our team in WA! Hear participants of the Ironbark program at Mirrabooka talk about what it has meant to them.

Here are some links to our research:

Our Cultural Governance

Our governance structure included at least 50 per cent representation of Aboriginal people and/or Aboriginal organisations:

  • Aboriginal Investigators (Prof Kathleen Clapham, Prof Marion Kickett, A/Prof Courtney Ryder, A/Prof Tamara Mackean, and Dr Julieann Coombes)
  • Senior Aboriginal advisor (Jean Turner)
  • Aboriginal Project Officers and HDR students
  • Aboriginal Cultural mentor
  • Aboriginal peak health organisation representation in a Policy working group

Our site staff included:

  • Aboriginal Cultural mentor
  • Aboriginal group fitness instructors and co-facilitators
  • Aboriginal research assistants to collect the data
  • Aboriginal site manager

Our Project Team

The study sponsor was The George Institute for Global Health.

The study was conducted by researchers from The George Institute for Global Health, The University of NSW, The University of Sydney, Flinders University, Wollongong University and Curtin University.

The Operational team were Academics, HDR candidates, and Project Officers from the School of Population Health, University of NSW.

Chief Investigators:

  • Prof Rebecca Ivers, Dr Julieann Coombes, Prof Cathie Sherrington, Prof Kathleen Clapham, Prof Lisa Keay, Prof Lindy ClemsonProf Anne Tiedemann, Prof Judy Simpson, Prof Anne-Marie Hill, A/Prof Tamara Mackean, and A/Prof Courtney Ryder

Associate Investigators:

  • Prof Robert Cumming, Prof Anne-Marie Eades, Prof Kirsten Howard, Dr Catherine Hunter, Prof Stephen Jan, Associate Professor  Kris Rogers, Dr Josephine Gwynn, Prof Kim Delbaere, Prof Marion Kickett, and Mr Adam Howie


Our Objective

We are excited to share The Ironbark Program, which is the first Falls prevention program in Australia, developed for Aboriginal people, by Aboriginal people. We anticipate it will be rolled out to older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia, to reduce falls and improve strength, balance, and social connectedness.  This will reduce falls and fall-related injuries among Aboriginal people, as well as support older Aboriginal people and Elders to continue their important roles in community.

Sign up to the Ironbark Program

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