Dr Karyn Ferguson

Gana Burrai: Applying population data linkage to build an Aboriginal community-governed maternal and infant health dataset in the Goulburn Murray region

Dr Ferguson graduated in 2021 and now undertaking an MDHS Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellowship.


This doctoral research is a quantitative population data linkage study. The research links administrative and statutory data that describes the maternal and birth characteristics of Aboriginal mothers and babies on traditional Yorta Yorta country.

This research blends a traditional epidemiological methodology with a discourse informed by Aboriginal cultural knowledge, data management, analysis and interpretation. An Aboriginal lens has been applied to the concept, design, analysis and interpretation of the research. Data collected through eight key datasets are linked using GRHANITE data-linkage technology to generate a comprehensive dataset that:

  • describes patterns and trends of maternal and infant outcomes (years 2008–17 inclusive)
  • applies an algorithmic measure over the linked dataset, providing an accurate ascertainment of births to mothers and/or fathers who identify as Aboriginal
  • uses traditional Aboriginal geospatial boundaries to ensure total Aboriginal population inclusion
  • establishes a framework for undertaking research based on Aboriginal leadership and data management.

Distinct components of the project method acknowledge the inconsistency between Aboriginal traditional country boundaries. The process of community engagement and relationship building was critical in the progress of the Gana Burrai project.

The technical component of this project has enabled the generation of a comprehensive, linked dataset that is bespoke to the women and babies belonging to and living on Yorta Yorta country.



Department of General Practice

Read the thesis