Dr Heena Akbar

Senior Lecturer

School of Public Health
Faculty of Medicine
+61 7 334 64920


Dr Akbar is a Pacific Fijian academic and researcher with extensive experience in community development research and teaching and has contributed to the Australian and International higher education sectors. Dr Akbar’s teaching and research are shaping how Indigenous knowledge is used to address the health inequities and social determinants of health of First Nations Peoples, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Māori & Pasifika (Pacific Islander) communities through co-designed solutions with the communities, and integrating community participatory action research and Indigenous perspectives and knowledge systems with social justice principles to promote equitable health and wellbeing. Heena's research addresses the social, cultural and economic burden of chronic conditions through a strength-based approach and impacts policy development that translates to better health outcomes for First Nations peoples, particularly Māori & Pasifika peoples in Australia and Internationally.

Research Interests

  • Health and Wellbeing of Māori and Pasifika communities
    We are currently working with Māori and Pasifika communities to co-design and co-develop programs and initiatives that promote holistic health and wellbeing.
  • Women’s health with a particular focus on chronic condition prevention and management
    We are currently piloting the Pasifika Women's Wellness Program for Maori and Pasifika women living with type 2 diabetes. This program was co-developed with the Pasifika communities in Southeast Queensland.
  • Community- based participatory action research and Indigenous methodologies (Pacific Indigenous approaches)
    We use Pacific Indigenous frameworks (Pacific Health Models) and methodologies and approaches embedded within emancipatory and social justice principles.
  • Cultural and social determinants of health
    Health inequities and cultural and social determinants of health are foundational in my teaching and research. My teaching focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Public Health and Social Determinants of Health to address health inequities. I use my research and community development experiences with First Nations communities and share these in the teaching & learning space with my students.

Research Impacts

Dr Akbar's work frames Pacific knowledge systems, Pacific Health models and Indigenous methodology to develop participatory co-designed solutions with First Nations, Maori and Pacific communities to address health inequatie. As a Pacific researcher, Heena works with Maori and Pacific communities in Australia and internationally to promote health and wellness as well as bringing the Pacific researchers to lead Māori and Pacific researcrh in Australia.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Queensland University of Technology
  • Masters (Research) of Public Health, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor (Honours), Queensland University of Technology


View all Publications


View all Supervision



Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Master Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor