Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Research field: Public Health
Dr. Riggs’ program for refugee and migrant health research has grown to span multiple health sectors including dental, maternal and child health and maternity services [[as well as the education and settlement settings.]] Her work focuses on refugees who have been forced to leave their homes to escape human rights abuses. These populations also experience increased risk of a range of physical, mental and social health problems related to experiences of extreme deprivation, trauma and stress associated with settlement in a new country as well as high rates of persistent poverty. Many healthcare services are not equipped to respond to the diverse cultural and language needs of refugees. Elisha’s research aims to support decision making about government policies, program design and service delivery, through strengthening and providing new knowledge in the area to improve the health of refugee and migrant families.
As a result of Elisha’s research, a state-wide policy has been created to enable refugee and asylum seekers to access public dental services for free. Her co-edited book Values and Vulnerabilities: the ethics of research with refugees and asylum seekers has also increased Elisha’s international profile as a leader in cross-cultural research having recently been invited to speak on a panel to forge international and national research priorities related to refugees and asylum seekers.