The Facilitated Development Approach mediates relationships between researchers, the Aboriginal health sector and government agencies to set research priorities and develop research projects.
The Lowitja Institute’s way of developing research is very different from traditional approaches. All of the research we support is focused on priorities identified by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people involved from the earliest planning stages right through to the end of the research itself. We call this ‘ground-up’ research methodology the Facilitated Development Approach. Our predecessor, the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health developed the Facilitated Development Approach to prioritise and develop new research projects within its strategic research programs.
Evidence shows that involving stakeholders throughout project development and implementation means that they are more likely to use research results at the end of the project. To ensure that stakeholders are involved throughout the process, Program Managers and Program Leaders were appointed to support and facilitate the Aboriginal health sector’s involvement in the development of projects.
This short (7 mins) video, 'Aboriginal Solutions to Aboriginal Health: Making Research Work' (2007) was funded and produced by our predecessor organisation the CRC for Aboriginal Health to explain how our approach to research works. It features interviews with Aboriginal participants in two research development settings, discussing their involvement in setting priorities and the way the Facilitated Development Approach is building greater acceptance of health research in Aboriginal communities.
Diagram 1: Facilitated Development Approach to Research step by step
A feature of the approach is its support for the Aboriginal health sector to identify areas where research may be able to make a real difference. It then brings together the researchers and industry partners (stakeholders) to design and conduct the research and disseminate the research findings. The steps are set out in the diagram below.
Facilitated Development Approach compared to traditional processes
The FDA approach to developing new research projects is different to ‘traditional’ research development processes. Experience and evidence has shown that this approach leads to:
- community-driven research, not investigator-driven research;
- collaboration not competition; and
- benefits to both community and researchers, not just researchers.
The CRC for Aboriginal Health found that more work with identifying and developing priorities with industry (community and other stakeholders) early in the process and working closely with project teams ensured that projects involved research transfer and capacity development from the development phase right through the project.