About

Professor Komla Tsey is Tropical Leader and Research Professor in Education for Social Sustainability within the School and The Cairns Institute. He is a highly qualified research professor with more than 25 years experience who provides leadership as part of transdisciplinary teams across the School of Education, The Cairns Institute and beyond to; undertake developmental research in the field of education for social sustainability; build a longer-term education for social sustainability collaborative research agenda; and mentor and support emerging researchers to become independent competitive researchers.

Professor Tsey is passionately committed to the ethical conduct of research, and to ensuring that research that he leads demonstrates tangible benefits for the research participants. 

Professor Tsey was Head of the Central Australian Unit Menzies School of Health Research (1995-99) and contributed significantly towards the setting up of Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health (now Lowitja Institute) and was one of the CRC’s 5 inaugural Research Program Leaders. Over the past decade, Komla has led a research team at JCU and The University of Queensland to operationalise and build research evidence-base for Aboriginal-developed community empowerment programs.

He is an expert in leading diverse research programs into politically sensitive and contemporary health, education, welfare and other social issues concerning Australia’s Indigenous and rural Ghanaian communities and beyond. He utilises original and collaborative empowerment and participatory approaches to improving understanding of social circumstances and the relationship between these and government policies, thereby improving and sustaining health and wellbeing in population subsets.

Interests
Research
  • Assessing the effectiveness of a community reinforcement and family training intervention for alcohol misuse with Indigenous Australians. An ARC Linkage Project with the National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW; The Lyndon Community; School of Education; Yoorana Gunya Family Violence Healing Centre Aboriginal Corporation
  • A whole-of-community approach to promoting engagement into education in a discrete indigenous community: A mixed method study. An ARC Discovery Project.
  • Building a cohort of indigenous research leaders in community health development. An NH&MRC Capacity Building Grant with the University of South Australia.
  • Building research capacity in Indigenous Australians and community controlled services. An NH&MRC Capacity Building Grant with the School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences; Indigenous Health Unit; Australian Institute of Tropical Medicine; School of Medicine & Dentistry.
  • Swine influenza containment strategies: Feasible containment strategies for swine influenza H1N1 in rural and remote indigenous communities. An NH&MRC project with the School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences; School of Education.
  • Economic evaluation of interventions to reduce the burden of harm from alcohol misuse in Indigenous Australians. An NH&MRC project with the School of Indigenous Australian Studies; School of Education.
  • The feasibility and effectiveness of a family based intervention for Indigenous Australians. An NH&MRC project with the School of Education.
  • Palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with end-stage renal disease: An action research initiative. An NH&MRC project with School of Medicine; School of Indigenous Australian Studies.
  • Pandemic influenza containment strategies in Aboriginal communities: What is acceptable and feasible? An NH&MRC project with the School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences; School of Education.
  • Pearl in the oyster: Caring for country and building mental health resilience to adverse climate change in rural and remote Aboriginal communities. An NH&MRC project with the University of Canberra, CSIRO, ANU, School of Indigenous Australian Studies.
  • A structured systems approach for improving health promotion practice for chronic diseases in indigenous communities. An NH&MRC project with the Northern Territory Department of Health and Community Services (NTDHCS); Menzies School of Health Research (MSHR); CRC for Aboriginal Health (CRCAH).
  • Tropical, Rural and Indigenous Communicable Disease Control (TRICDC). An NH&MRC project with the School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences; School of Education.
  • Strategies designed to promote the longer term sustainability of the Empowerment Research Program. A Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations - Research Infrastructure Block Grant with the School of Education; School of Indigenous Australian Studies.
  • Implementation of a program of applied research and evaluation focusing on priority issues for the improvement of social and emotional well being and mental health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of North Queensland. A Queensland Health project with the School of Indigenous Australian Studies, School of Education and The University of New South Wales
  • Sexual health management in NPA & TSI with the delivery of the Family Wellbeing Program. A Queensland Health – Consultancy with the School of Education; Tropical Population Health Unit, Queensland Health; Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health. Preparedness of schools for climate change contingencies. A JCU Collaboration Across Boundaries Grant with the School of Education, Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition.
  • Making a difference: Promoting sustainable change in education, training and employment in Yarrabah. Indigenous Coordinating Council, Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council, Education Queensland. Project with the School of Education.
  • Making a difference: Planning for improved emotional and social wellbeing for Yarrabah. A Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service - Collaborative Research Project with the School of Education.
  • Preparedness of schools for climate change contingencies. A JCU Collaboration Across Boundaries Grant with the School of Education, Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition.
Experience
  • 2012 to present - Program Leader, Healthy Communities and Settings, The Lowitja Institute, Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
  • 2009 to present - Research Professor, The Cairns Institute (James Cook University, Cairns)
  • 2009 to present - Tropical Leader, James Cook University (Cairns)
  • 2000 to present - Founder and Patron, Botoku Education Trust (Ghana)
  • 2005 to 2009 - Associate Professor and Principal Research Fellow, National Health and Medical Research Centre
  • 2005 to 2009 - Program Leader, Empowerment Research Program, James Cook University (Cairns)
  • 2005 - NHMRC Principal Fellow and Associate Professor, University of Queensland
  • 2002 to 2004 - Head of North Queensland Health Equalities Promotion Unit, University of Queensland
  • 2000 to 2002 - Senior Lecturer, University of Queensland
  • 1999 to 2000 - Senior Lecturer and Indigenous Health Research Coordinator, James Cook University (Cairns)
  • 1996 to 1999 - Inaugural Research Program Leader, Menzies School of Health Research
  • 1995 to 1999 - Senior Lecturer and Head of Central Australian Unit, Menzies School of Health Research
  • 1993 to 1994 - Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of Aboriginal Health Worker Training, Anyinginyi Congress Aboriginal Health Service, Bachelor College (Alice Springs)
  • 1992 to 1993 - Lecturer, University of New South Wales (New South Wales)
  • 1991 to 1992 - Lecturer, University of Wollongong (Wollongong)
  • 1986 to 1991 - Lecturer, University of Ghana (Ghana)
  • 1984 to 1987 - Tutor/Lecturer, University of Glasgow (Scotland)
  • 1980 to 1982 - Tutor, University of Ghana (Ghana)
  • 1974 to 1977 - Community Development Worker, Ministry of Health and Community Development (Ghana)
Socio-Economic Objectives
Honours
Awards
  • 2006 - Most successful team with research funding within JCU's People, Identity and Place research hub
  • 2005 - National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Population Health Research Career Development Award
  • 1994 - AJ Thompson Award for Good Practice in Public Health
Memberships
  • Oxford Round Table participant
  • Central Australian Rural Practitioners Association
  • Public Health Association of Australia
  • Social Inclusion, Empowerment and Participation Network of the World Health Organisation Commission on the Social Determinants of Health.
  • African Studies Association
Publications

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
More

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 145+ research outputs authored by Prof Komla Tsey from 1994 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Lowitja Institute - Research Activity Funding

Sustainable implementation of Indigenous early childhood family support programs that work: a Family Wellbeing (FWB) Case-Study

Indicative Funding
$503,553 over 3 years
Summary
The aim of the project is to define and develop funding models and mechanisms that can support FWB empowerment program integration and implementation within early childhood family support programs. The FWB program attends to the social and emotional wellbeing needs of the family and in this instance will integrate FWB at different levels to enhance broader community capacity to create supportive environments for children to thrive. A whole of community approach is a defining feature of this project which will bring together Indigenous early childhood family support service providers, policy makers and researchers through collaborative partnerships. Improving the health and wellbeing of children is vital to ensuring that good health continues into adulthood which has implications for positive social, cultural, educational and economic outcomes.
Investigators
Yvonne Cadet-James, Komla Tsey, Irina Kinchin, Roxanne Bainbridge, Claire Campbell, Jane Mills and Janya McCalman in collaboration with Catherine Brown, H Klieve, Mary Whiteside and Louis McPherson (Aust Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Centre, College of Arts, Society & Education, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, College of Healthcare Sciences, Griffith University and La Trobe University)
Keywords
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; Family Wellbeing; Early Childhood

Australian Research Council - Discovery Indigenous

Developing a framework for measuring Indigenous research benefit

Indicative Funding
$612,845 over 3 years
Summary
The proposed project will bring together researchers and Indigenous community members to develop a collaborative framework for measuring research benefit. It will address two main 'Closing the Gap' priority areas, Indigenous health and education, by questioning what constitutes research benefit from an Indigenous perspective, and how can the benefits of research be measured to ensure sustainable outcomes for Indigenous communities. The innovation of this project lies in its methodology which will unpack the benefit construct from an Indigenous worldview to enable future research projects to be designed with outcomes in mind that are acceptable and valued by Indigenous beneficiaries and be informed by Indigenous knowledge.
Investigators
Felecia Watkin, Roxanne Bainbridge, Yvonne Cadet-James, Komla Tsey and Janya McCalman (Aust Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Centre, College of Arts and Society & Education)
Keywords
Aboroginal & Torres Strait Islander; benefit; research impact

NHMRC - Mental Health Targeted Call for Research

Psycho-social resilience, vulnerability and suicide prevention: a mentoring approach to modifying suicide risk for remote Indigenous students who are compelled to relocate to boarding schools

Indicative Funding
$824,875 over 5 years
Summary
Responsive to concerns of suicide risk for transitioning students by Education Queensland's Transition Support Service, this study will examine the implementation and effectiveness (including cost-effectiveness) of a targeted mentoring approach that promotes psychosocial resilience against suicide for remote Indigenous students who are compelled to transition to boarding schools. It will contribute practice - and policy-relevant knowledge for education providers and broader Indigenous suicide prevention efforts.
Investigators
Roxanne Bainbridge, Janya McCalman, Komla Tsey, Ernest Hunter, Patrick McGorry, Mark Wenitong, Yvonne Cadet-James, Anthony Shakeshaft, Christopher Doran and Christopher Lalonde in collaboration with Catherine Brown, Les Baird, Nerina Caltabiano, Melissa Haswell-Elkins, Sue McGinty, Marie O'Dea, Lynne Russell, Sandy Russo, Katrina Rutherford, Vicki-Lea Saunders and Richard Stewart (Cairns Institute, The University of Queensland, Orygen Research Centre, Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Aust Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Centre, The University of New South Wales, The University of Newcastle, University of Victoria, Wontulp-Bi-Buya College, College of Healthcare Sciences, College of Arts, Society & Education, Headspace, Cairns, Victoria University of Wellington, Education Queensland, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
suicide prevention; Mentoring; School-based Intervention; Aboriginal mental health; Adolescent Health; Intervention study

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

How midwifery students at a university in PNG understand, experience and manage the provision of care to women following stillbirth

Indicative Funding
$3,000
Summary
This study will describe and theorise the understanding of stillbirth and experiences of providing care to women following stillbirth with a cohort of midwifery students at a university in Papua New Guinea. The study will document social, cultural, spiritual and professional factors that inform the provision of care fro the perspective of midwifery students who have been maternal healthcare providers prior to enrolment. The study will contribute to the body of knowledge on stillbirth experiences in resources limited and complex social and cultural settings, and enhance collaboration between JCU and Pacific Adventist University.
Investigators
Karen Cheer, Komla Tsey, David MacLaren and Jenny Kelly (College of Arts, Society & Education and College of Medicine & Dentistry)
Keywords
Stillbirth; Papua New Guinea; Grounded Theory; Midwifery Students

Menzies School of Health Research - Ext_Source: NHMRC Grant 1078927 CRE IQI

Strengthening community-led partnerships to improve Indigenous health and well-being

Indicative Funding
$6,363
Summary
This project aims to strengthen community-led partnerships (CLPs) to improve Indigenous health and well-being using CQI processes. The seed funding will be utilised in bringing together leaders of existing community-led partnerships, and visits with leaders of other identified CLPs, with the aim of identifying and documenting the strengths of existing community-led partnerships, and exploring how CQI processes can improve, support or accelerate best practice in community-led partnerships.
Investigators
Komla Tsey, Cindy Woods, Ines Zuchowski and Debra Miles (College of Arts, Society & Education and The University of New England)
Keywords
Indigenous Health Services; Interagency relations; Health Services; quality Improvement; Indigenous Populations

Lowitja Institute - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health CRC

Pathways to resilience: The role of cultural connectedness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents

Indicative Funding
$89,813 over 2 years
Summary
Resilience, the capacity to negotiate and shape environments in which people can respond to life?s challenges in healthy meaningful ways, is key to flourishing in life. But there is an absence of evidence about how pathways to resilience are navigated by culturally diverse populations. With a specific focus on the cultural determinants, this research will explain how pathways to resilience are negotiated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents to sustain their health and wellbeing.
Investigators
Roxanne Bainbridge, Janya McCalman, Komla Tsey, Yvonne Cadet-James, Catherine Brown and Melody Muscat in collaboration with Mark Wenitong (Cairns Institute, College of Arts, Society & Education, Aust Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Centre, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and Apunipima Cape York Health Council)
Keywords
Indigenous Australians; Resilience; Adolescents; Wellbeing

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

How midwifery students at a university in PNG understand, experience and manage the provision of care to women following stillbirth.

Indicative Funding
$3,000
Summary
This study will describe and theorise the understanding of stillbirth and experiences of providing care to women following stillbirth with a cohort of midwifery students at a univeristy in Papua New Guinea. The study will document social, cultural, spiritual and professional factors that inform the provision of care from the perspective of midwifery students who have been maternal healthcare providers prior to enrolment. The study will contribute to the body of knowledge on stillbirth experiences in resource limited and complex social and cultural settings, and enhance collaboration between JCU and Pacific Adventist University.
Investigators
Karen Cheer, Komla Tsey, David MacLaren and Jenny Kelly (College of Arts, Society & Education and College of Medicine & Dentistry)
Keywords
stillbirth experiences; Papua New Guinea; Grounded Theory; Midwifery students

Menzies School of Health Research - Ext_Source: NHMRC Grant 1078927 CRE IQI

Quality Improvement in Indifenous Primary Health Care: Leveraging Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP)

Indicative Funding
$7,000
Summary
Continuous quality improvement (CQI) initiatives are well-accepted as an effective means for improving quality of care at primary health care (PHC) services. However, there remains significant variation in the quality of care provided between individual services and the degree of response to CQI activities. This sis so despite active and effective CQI networks supported by a number of organisations. Understanding the detail of this variability is vital before quality improvement initiatives in Indigenous PHC can be effectively scaled-up and expanded. We aim to enhance understanding of how quality improvement initiatives in Indigenous PHC can be rolled out on a broader scale, particularly in services that face capacity and resource-based challenges, through I0 building on our understanding of how contextual factors interact to facilitate or limit the success of CQI initiatives; and ii) collaborative development and testing of a toolkit of interventions to address barriers to improvement.
Investigators
Sarah Larkins, Jacinta Elston, Komla Tsey, Emma McBryde, Kerry Copley, Rebecca Evans and Carly Woods in collaboration with Paul Burgess, Ross Baille, R Wright, V Matthews, S Thompson, Christine Connors and Rachael Ham (College of Medicine & Dentistry, Division of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Arts, Society & Education, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, Aboriginal Medical Service, NT Department of Health & Community Services, Menzies Research Institute, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, Queensland Health, The University of Western Australia and Apunipima Cape York Health Council)
Keywords
Indigenous Health; Primary Health Care; Quality improvement; Continuous Quality Improvement; Workforce

NHMRC - Centres of Research Excellence

Systematic Review: Family-Centred Approaches for Early Childhood Health and Wellbeing Care

Indicative Funding
$21,107 over 2 years (administered by University of Western Australia-Apunipima Cape York Health Council)
Summary
The Apunipima and JCU partnership proposes to systematically review the literature to answer three overarching research questions: 1) What family-centred approaches have been documented to improve MCH and what are their effectiveness? 2) What indicators are used to measure the effects of family-centred MCH approaches? 3) To what extend have their costs and benefits been documented?
Investigators
Janya McCalman, Sandra Campbell, Rachael Ham, Linda Shields, Komla Tsey, Roxanne Bainbridge, Katrina Keith, Karen Edmond, Natalie Stroebl and R Marriott (Cairns Institute, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Apunipima Cape York Health Council, College of Healthcare Sciences, College of Arts, Society & Education, The University of Western Australia and Murdoch University)
Keywords
Indigenous; Systematic Review; Cochrane; Maternal and Child Health; Family Health

Mind Australia - Contract Research

Proposal to Develop and Implement a Formative Evaluation of the Newly Established Cairns PARC Service

Indicative Funding
$31,835 over 2 years
Summary
This proposal aims to work collaboratively with service managers and other key stakeholders to development and implement a formative evaluation plan for the newly established Cairns prevention and Recovery Care (PARC) service. The expected outcomes of the proposed evaluation are: * a description of the PARC service profile and service use characteristics; * a framework to facilitate continuous quality improvement of PARC; * ensure strategies are in place to collect data over the longer term to assess the extent to which the PARC model as it operates in Cairns constitutes value for money; and * provide additional pilot data for the proposed NHMRC Partnership Grant application.
Investigators
Komla Tsey, Irina Kinchin, Narayan Gopalkrishnan and Vinnitta Mosby in collaboration with Steve Morton, Margaret Grigg, Lisa Brophy and J Buchanan (College of Arts, Society & Education, Aust Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Centre, Mind Australia, The University of Melbourne and Cairns & Hinterland Health Service District)
Keywords
PARC (Prevention and Recovery Care); Mental Illness; Mental Health; Evaluation

NHMRC - Project Grant

ABCD Case Studies Project: Quality improvement in Aboriginal primary health care: lessons from the best to better the rest.

Indicative Funding
$598,580 over 3 years
Summary
High performing primary health care (PHC) services are essential to "close the gap" in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes. Little previous research has investigated the contextual factors around a particular service that influence the success of quality improvement initiatives. We aim to transfer knowledge about the processes that facilitate the success of quality improvement initiatives in these services whilst building research and evaluation capacity in the services.
Investigators
Sarah Larkins, Sandra Thompson, Jacinta Elston, Christine Connors and Komla Tsey in collaboration with Dallas Leon, Elizabeth Moore, Jacqueline Ward, Ross Bailie, Ru Kwedza, Tania Patrao and Veronica Matthews (College of Medicine & Dentistry, The University of Western Australia, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Department of Health (NT), Cairns Institute, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, Aboriginal Medical Service, Menzies School of Health Research and Queensland Health)
Keywords
Quality improvement; Aboriginal Health; Primary care; Health services research; Chronic diseases

Australian Research Council - Discovery Indigenous

Inspiring Indigenous youth to build resilience and sustain participation with education and employment: the role of targeted mentoring support

Indicative Funding
$515,000 over 3 years
Summary
Mentoring is integral to the larger policy framework of inspiring youth to build resilience and sustain participation in education and employment. Benefits are increased human, cultural and social capital. Lacking evidence hampers efforts to improve Indigenous wellbeing and prosperity. The research will strengthen the evidence-base for promoting the education and employment prospects for Indigenous youth by examining the processes and effectiveness of targeted mentoring support. A theoretical model of mentoring work is the primary outcome. Secondary are outcomes measures and cost-benefit analysis. Linking evidence-based research and policy maximises opportunities for Indigenous youth to have healthy productive lives and meaningful futures.
Investigators
Roxanne Bainbridge, Komla Tsey, Christopher Doran, Anthony Shakeshaft and Roz Walker (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, College of Arts, Society & Education, The University of New South Wales, The University of Newcastle and The University of Western Australia)
Keywords
Indigenous; Mentoring; Secondary Education
Supervision

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

Current
  • Dreaming Story Way: An Exploration and Utilization of the Creative Voice Grounded in Wik Spirituality Throughout the Counselling Process (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Exploring Differences in Family Education between China and Australia with a Focus on Children?s Academic Development in Primary School Years (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Science Fiction as Social Reality exploring the relationship between culture and disposable media in the English language from the 1930s to the present. (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Opportunity Cost of Non-Inclusive policy in Indonesia (PhD, Secondary Advisor)
  • Midwifery Students' Understanding of Stillbirth and their Experiences of Providing Stillbirth Care in Papua New Guinea (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • Populations of Humanitarian Concern: Vulnerability, Protection and Resilience in the Informal Settlement. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • The Effectiveness of Using a Social and Emotional Skills Intervention to Support the Wellbeing of Indigenous Students with High Mobility (PhD, Primary Advisor)
  • The Influence of African Migrant Parents on their Children's Career Choices in a New Culture (Masters, Advsor Mentor)
  • Problem Based Learning As A Tool For Teacher Development- A Case From University of Papua New Guinea Public Health Teaching. (PhD, Primary Advisor)
Completed
Collaboration

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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