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CommunityEthics committeesResearchers
Research participantsStudents and supervisors

Community organisations

We want to do research

The idea for a health research project for your community or organisation might come from the concerns of community members, service staff or others. It might aim to fill a gap in knowledge about a health issue, or come out of another research project where findings led to more questions that need answers. Or it may come from who you are as an Indigenous person seeking change for your community. The research project might be specific to one site or organisation, or be widely relevant.

Whatever and wherever the idea comes from, the Lowitja Institute resource Researching Indigenous health: A practical guide for researchers, chapter 7, will provide you with the information needed to start a research project, such as:

  • What do you bring from your own background and discipline?
  • How have other projects approached this type of research?
  • What are the resources needed?
  • Getting the plan right.

Do we need Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research ethics approval and what is the process?

If the health research project involves clinical or epidemiological research, data linkage or data release, health services or population health research, or qualitative research you will usually need ethics clearance. This is true for any inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants, even in the event that the health research is working across other population groups. 

For health research ethics proposals being submitted through a university system or research institution or health services and hospitals, the health research proposal should be assessed through an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific health research ethics committee See: National, State and Territory contacts or contact National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) or the relevant state affiliates.

If you are collecting ideas and information to plan a local project or evaluation of the service you provide, you may not need ethics approval. Of course ethical considerations for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants still apply to quality assurance processes and community consultation and ongoing communication is imperative.

We have been approached to collaborate on research

Some particular questions and other considerations for a community or organisation apparoached by researchers to collaborate on research are:

  • Informed consent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research enables participants to be fully aware of the proposed scope of the health research project, what processes are involved and how data and information will be collected and shared. This may require the researcher to translate, provide visual supports and simplify health research language, and also to consult with key representatives of the community, including Elders. Once a trusting relationship has been established, an appropriate visual or audio recording or a written record of consent should be obtained.

  • A good partnership should reach agreement about the identification of individuals involved in the research, and the appropriate acknowledgment of those who took part in any publication. Where the contribution has been significant, the researcher would consider joint authorship with community members.

  • Is this study necessary? Do we know if the research has already been conducted in another community similar to your own?
  • What are the reporting and other resource requirements of the organisation?
  • Has clear information been provided to all participants on the process for dispute resolution?

Keeping Research on Track is designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to use when they are considering conducting or being involved with health research. It assists people to become familiar with the stages of research and to make decisions that ensure the research journey respects shared values as well as diversity, priorities, needs and aspirations of communities for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Created: 21 November 2014 - Updated: 05 December 2017