Better research starts with you
The Aboriginal community is the most over-researched population in the world. Despite this, very little research meets the needs of the community. While there are numerous guidelines for co-creating research with Aboriginal communities, many of them fall short in practice.
This guide is designed to help researchers engage with Aboriginal communities in culturally appropriate ways. It was co-created with Aboriginal elders and the community, to inspire more meaningful research outcomes.
The power of partnership
As researchers, we want our research to have impact. To do that, we must work in partnership with Aboriginal communities. We must foster a culture of respect, trust and community. Only then can we co-design, collect, represent and disseminate data in ways that meet the needs of the Aboriginal community.
Start with a yarn
The quickest way to develop trust with Aboriginal communities is to start a conversation. Aboriginal communities are big on getting to know people outside the boundaries of work. A good yarn can reveal a lot more about a community than any research methodology ever could.
Lead with community
If we want our research to impact a community, we must think like a community. Aboriginal culture is about bringing people together. It’s about sharing ideas and working together for the benefit of all. Unlike the Western biomedical model, which is singular, Aboriginal health research must speak to the physical, social, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing of the entire community.
Create mutual respect
True partnership starts with cultural humility. It’s the idea that no one way or culture is the right way. Instead, it’s being open to new ideas, learning from each other and looking at solutions together. It’s creating a sense of mutual respect. Respect for the research and for Aboriginal ways.
Decide what’s appropriate
Each Aboriginal mob has its own cultural nuances. What’s culturally appropriate for engaging one group may not be for another.
The following resources are useful to understanding what is culturally appropriate when engaging Aboriginal communities. However, Aboriginal communities and organisations are best placed to advise on best practice.
Important guides to read
Steps to success
This checklist can be used as a step-by-step guide to conducting collaborative research projects with Aboriginal communities. Use it in conjunction with the Partnership video and Applied Cultural Proficiency training for the best outcomes.
Steps to success and measures
Confirm your core values fit with indigenist research
- Completed Maridulu Budyari Gumal website’s on-line Applied Cultural Proficiency for Researching in Indigenous Communities learning module, and/or the cultural competence education at your organisation.
Embed a capacity building methodology
- Use of an appropriate methodology such as Community Based Participatory Action Research; Dadirri; the Dilly Bag Model; or the model best suited to your community research.
Know your country and community leaders
- Letter of support from relevant community organisation and/or elders.
- Ethics application supported by your organisation, the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council; your host Aboriginal community organisation/s.
Collaborate with appropriate research bodies within your organisation
- Cultural endorsement of your project (for example, Western Sydney University’s Elders on Campus Committee, and/or Community Boards in the host Aboriginal Organisations).
Ensure your project demonstrates research reciprocity
- Intellectual Property rights are agreed on and shared across research partners as appropriate.
- Measurable long-term benefits to community (as determined by the community).
Evaluate and translateyour research
- Evaluation of the research and outcomes from an indigenist lens (for example, using the Ngaa-bi-nya Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program evaluation).
- Research is translated into outcomes and outputs useful for researchers, policy makers, health practitioners, and your host community.
Support your research to be an agent of change in Aboriginal communities
- Demonstrate community ownership of research project and process.
- Demonstrate capacity building within Aboriginal communities (for example, by the inclusion of Aboriginal Researchers in research leadership positions).
Ask the community
Ask a question, check a fact, or keep up-to-date with Aboriginal research etiquette with help from the Maridulu Budyari Gumal |Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Clinical Academic Group.
Aunty Kerrie Doyle
Lead Maridulu Budyari Gumal | Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Clinical Academic Group
Professor of Indigenous HealthWestern Sydney University
Project OfficerMaridulu Budyari Gumal | Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Clinical Academic Group
Find out more about the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Clinical Academic Group