The full potential for research to improve Aboriginal health has not yet been realised. This paper describes an established long-term action partnership between Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs), the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of New South Wales (AH&MRC), researchers and the Sax Institute, which is committed to using high-quality data to bring about health improvements through better services, policies and programs. The ACCHSs, in particular, have ensured that the driving purpose of the research conducted is to stimulate action to improve health for urban Aboriginal children and their families. This partnership established a cohort study of 1600 urban Aboriginal children and their caregivers, known as SEARCH (the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health), which is now having significant impacts on health, services and programs for urban Aboriginal children and their families. This paper describes some examples of the impacts of SEARCH, and reflects on the ways of working that have enabled these changes to occur, such as strong governance, a focus on improved health, AH&MRC and ACCHS leadership, and strategies to support the ACCHS use of data and to build Aboriginal capacity.