Paula Arnol is the Chief Executive Officer of Danila Dilba Biluru Butji Binnilutlum Health Service, the main Aboriginal Medical Service for Darwin and surrounding areas, where Cyril Oliver also works as an Aged Care Health Worker. Paula and Cyril talk about what they want to know when a researcher approaches the service to talk about doing research.
[There are two types of approaches we get.] One where the researchers have already won grants, they want to come and work with us, and a second [type] where they’re writing up a research proposal and applying for a grant, and they want to involve us.
What is the research about? What will it involve?
When a researcher contacts us about doing research, we tell them to come and meet with us and we hear out what their research proposal is, what’s in it for Danila Dilba and for our patients within the Darwin area. Is it a need for us, or are we just doing it to tick their box for their funding grant? If there is gain for us, then what’s the partnership?
Then we start to develop up the research methodology based on that, and we go through the whole process. We want to have a say in the methodologies, because [often] we find that they don’t think through the logistics of [the research]. They write it up from a researcher’s point of view and then they try to do that whole community engagement and participation process, but they don’t think about the obligations on behalf of the services that they want to work with. [But for us,] we need to know our obligations and in-kind contribution under the research proposal – and can we do it?
We have a check sheet that steps out the process needed to negotiate research with us.
- Has it been through ethics approval?
- How does Danila Dilba benefit? What are the gains for Danila Dilba?
- What’s the contribution for Danila Dilba to the research team?
- What are the financial and resource allocations?
- What is the plan for the transfer of knowledge from the research?
- What is the process for bringing that knowledge back into services?
- Is there a presentation to show the findings and talk about what we can actually do, strategically, to use the findings?
[Another] process is Board endorsement. So there is a check sheet sits over the top of [the research proposal], all the research documents sit underneath it… The Board can see the ethics approval, they can see that we’ve had the discussions, who the researchers are, who are the team leaders, all of that.
From Researching Indigenous Health: A Practical Guide for Researchers, Alison Laycock with Diane Walker, Nea Harrison & Jenny Brands 2011, The Lowitja Institute, Melbourne, chapter 4, pp. 76–7.