Researcher biography

Associate Professor Steve Bell is a Principal Research Fellow in the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Queensland. He is an applied health and social researcher with 20 years' experience of qualitative, participatory and ethnographic research on sexual, reproductive and maternal health, HIV and other infectious diseases. He is currently working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in remote, regional and urban settings across Australia, and excluded and oppressed communities in Asia and the Pacific (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea), and has undertaken previous work in countries in Africa (Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and Asia (India and Nepal).

Steve is committed to prioritising community expertise and leadership in research, and working in partnership with communities and community organisations to understand people's everyday experiences of health, structures of oppression that maintain health inequalities, and community action that effects change. He uses interpretive approaches to access and amplify excluded voices, knowledges, worldviews and priorities, and community-led methods to privilege the generation and interpretation of data by community members. He is Joint Editor, Sexual Health journal and Member of the International Editorial Advisory Board for Culture, Health & Sexuality.

Current qualitative projects include a focus on:

  • youth-centred co-design research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to enhance accessibility of age, gender and culturally appropriate sexual health promotion and clinical services in regional and metropolitan NSW
  • using peer research approaches to understand how Aboriginal young people enhance sexual well-being by building on social, cultural and personal strengths and resources
  • Aboriginal youth-led rapid qualitative assessments of COVID-19 needs and experiences in urban NSW
  • the sexual health experiences and needs of sexually and gender diverse young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including Sistergirls and Brotherboys, in Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory
  • young women's and men's experiences of pregnancy in Papua New Guinea
  • the socio-cultural dimensions of tuberculosis, and diagnosis, prevention and care programs, in a high burden, underserved setting in Papua New Guinea
  • socialising biomedical approaches to HIV testing, treatment and care among men who have sex with men, female sex workers and transgender popualtions in PNG, Indonesia and Uganda.

Steve has a keen interest in mentoring and training community, doctoral and early career researchers in rigorous qualitative health research. Recent PhD supervision experience includes:

  • 'Drug use practices and changing HIV risk environments: the lived experiences of people who use drugs in Jakarta, Indonesia' by Anindita Sudewo, due to submit in August 2021 (In progress; Primary Supervisor)
  • 'Navigating the social dynamics of HIV care: A qualitative study in urban Indonesia in the era of scaled-up testing and treatment', by Dr Elan Lazuardi, now a Lecturer in Anthropology at Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (Successfully completed, 2020; Primary Supervisor)
  • 'Socio-ecological factors influencing access to and use of HIV testing, treatment and care services in fishing communities around Lake Victoria in Uganda', by Dr Christopher Tumwine, now a Lecturer in Medical Sociology at Kabale University in Kabale, Uganda (Successfully completed, 2019; Co-primary Supervisor)