The National Statement has been developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). It functions as the ethical guidelines for all research involving humans and is designed to be used by
- any researcher conducting research with human participants
- any member of an ethical review body reviewing that research
- those involved in research governance
- potential research participants.
The National Statement is grounded in four main principles: Respect, Integrity and Research Merit, Justice and Beneficence. These four principles are applied to different research methods or fields, and specific participants. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are one group of specific participants recognised in this document.
Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research
Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research [310KB] was first developed in 2003 as a replacement for the Guidelines on Ethical Matters in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, which was issued in 1991. Values and Ethics was also developed by the NHMRC. It covers ethics in health research conducted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and has been written for researchers, communities, human research ethics committees and other stakeholders in the research .
These guidelines are linked to The National Statement, with references to the relevant sections within the document. Values and Ethics is not meant to be a compliance checklist, but to offer a framework of important cultural values common to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for researchers to address throughout the design and implementation of their research work.
Values and Ethics is based on the importance of trust, recognition and values. It describes six principles important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. These core values, which have been identified through a national consultation process including workshops with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are: Spirit and Integrity, Reciprocity, Respect, Equality, Survival and Protection, and Responsibility.
Keeping Research on Track [5.8MB] is the translation of Values and Ethics into a community guide, and was developed in 2005 by the NHMRC. It is written to provide clear guidelines in health research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and created specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members and organisations. It primarily aims to empower Aboriginal people to get the most out of research projects, to know their rights and responsibilities and a checklist of what some important considerations may be.
It contains the same six values as described in Values and Ethics. In addition to the six values, it outlines the research process in eight steps and describes what the rights and the responsibilities of the researcher and the community are, and which questions the community can ask from the researcher. The six values are described as follows:
- Spirit and integrity – a connection between the past, present and future, and the respectful and honourable behavior that holds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values together.
- Reciprocity – Shared responsibilities and obligations to family and the land based on kinship networks, also includes sharing of benefits.
- Respect – for each other’s dignity and individual ways of living. This is the basis of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live.
- Equality – recognising the equal value of all individuals. Fairness and justice, the right to be different.
- Survival and protection – of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, languages and identity. Acknowledging shared values is a significant strength.
- Responsibility – Is the recognition of important responsibilities, which involve Country, kinship, caring for others and maintenance of cultural and spiritual awareness. The main responsibility is to do no harm to any person or any place. Responsibilities can be shared so others can be held accountable.
In addition to these values the next eight steps in the research process are described as:
- Building relationships
- Conceptualisation – thinking
- Development and approval
- Data collection and management
- Analysis – looking at the meaning
- Report writing
- Dissemination – sharing the results
- Learning from our experience.
An Evaluation Report [1MB] of Values and Ethics and Keeping Research on Track was carried out by the Lowitja Institute, in partnership with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, for the NHMRC in 2015.