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Engage–Exchange–Change: Strengthening Indigenous health research engagement, action, translation and impact

PhD thesis by Alister Thorpe

Ethics and engagement protocols for Indigenous research are well established, yet it is difficult to measure how (and if) protocols are complied with. There has been an extensive range of Indigenous protocols, principles and guidelines published regarding ethics, engagement and translation of Indigenous health research. These principles seek to improve the research process and increase the likelihood of achieving better research outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. However, real research outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and evidence regarding use of research in policy and practice suggest that research is failing to have the impact that it promises.

To be effective, Indigenous research must involve Indigenous people in the planning, development, dissemination and implementation. This research aims to provide evidence that the development of research that is actively informed and guided by ethics, engagement and translation principles will more likely lead to research impact and benefit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

The proposal aims to develop an Aboriginal health research tool to compare and/or measure the impact of engagement, ethics and translation implementation in past (and current) Aboriginal health research projects.


In the last 9 years Alister has worked at the University of Melbourne and been involved in a number of Aboriginal research projects including the Taking Care of Business project, the development of a Victorian Aboriginal Child Health Development and Wellbeing Survey and the Injecting Drug Use Project at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service.  

As an Aboriginal man Alister wants to protect and strengthen his cultural knowledge and understanding and pass this on to his children. As an Aboriginal researcher and community member he hopes to use the skills and knowledge he has gained to develop research projects applying Indigenous research principles in strong partnership with Aboriginal communities, to support outcomes that improve Aboriginal health and wellbeing.

Created: 05 September 2016 - Updated: 05 September 2016