The diversity in Wagga's multicultural population has the power to transform global healthcare research, according to a Charles Sturt University researcher.
Professor Deborah Warr, a research fellow from the university's 'Three Rivers' rural health department, joined over 90 academics from around the country on Thursday for a discussion on reforming research methodologies.
On Friday at the 'Living Well Across the Lifespan' symposium in Wagga, Professor Warr is to present the results of her own research, which spans the involvement of Wagga's eight separate refugee communities from Africa, Burma, Afghanistan and Yazidis.
"As researchers, we can often talk about and not to our subjects," Professor Warr said.
"We need to get away from the idea that research is just handing people packets of information and get them involved with creating the research, understanding how knowledge is created. That's a more well-rounded approach."
Professor Warr and her team have been documenting the resettlement experiences of the eight refugee groups in order to better manage their holistic healthcare now and into the future.
"If you want to know about refugee health, you could talk to a nurse. That's helpful, but to bring [the refugees] into the research themselves, that will give you different insights into different experiences," she said.
The team's ability to track progress over time is aided by the different group's long-term experiences and Wagga's high rate of resettlement retention.
While the African community began setting roots in Wagga in about 2006, the Yazidi community has only begun arriving for the past couple years.
"We're able to see over time how their settlement happens, how they excel, to begin with, and plateau over time," Professor Warr said.
"They can get by, but how do they get ahead? What more can we do to help them thrive, to climb the ladder from low-skilled jobs, get their children into university, see them buying a home?"
Professor Warr is hoping government policy will be affected by the results now documented over time and place.
Complimented with the research team's medical experience and knowledge, their interactions with the social groups has led to unanticipated results.
"We want to take a strengths-based approach, so we talk to them about what helps and what's positive about their experience," Professor Warr said.
"Sometimes it's unexpected. Some talk of the police as being such a good thing for them, and we have to step back and think of what they personify.
[The police are] symbolic of social justice. Things like universal healthcare, Centrelink, social justice, we take for granted and they're so valuable and precious to people who haven't had that before."