A drive to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people inspired Associate Professor Kootsy Canuto’s career in academia.
Kootsy is a Torres Strait Islander from the Wagadagam clan, Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait.
Unsatisfied with a public servant job Kootsy was encouraged by his wife Associate Professor Karla Canuto to pursue a career in research.
He has a particular interest in investigating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health and wellbeing relating to improving and streamlining primary health care services and programs, fatherhood, and co-designing social and emotional wellbeing programs.
“Through my innate ability to listen, I have developed strong meaningful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and community organisations across Australia,” he said.
“These relationships are of the utmost importance and will continue to guide all elements of my research and personal development.
“I will continue to leverage opportunities to further the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health agenda in Australia and internationally.”
He said specialising in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health was a no-brainer.
“I believe you play to your strengths and leave the rest to others…I’m a Torres Strait Islander man, I have lived experience as being a Torres Strait Islander man, so it makes sense to me to specialise in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health,” he said.
Kootsy is leading a multi-institutional and multi-jurisdictional project team of six funded by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).
The project is aimed at improving the use of primary health care services by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men through unique continuous quality improvement initiatives (NHMRC) and through auditing social and emotional wellbeing processes and programs whilst facilitating the co-design of these programs (MRFF) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.
He is also working with Professor Catherine Chamberlain as a chief investigator in her research program of work – Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future.
He made the move from Menzies School of Health and Research to Flinders University in January with his wife and Professor James Smith, who is the Deputy Dean at Flinders Rural and Remote Health.