The Indigenous Research Reform Agenda: A broad agenda of reform to ensure that research provides benefits to Aboriginal people and is controlled by Aboriginal people
The CRC for Aboriginal and Tropical Health (CRCATH, 1997–2003), carried out a significant body of work, which helped to consolidate and articulate what had been a long history of reforms to improve the usefulness of research to Aboriginal people, known as the Indigenous Research Reform Agenda (IRRA). The IRRA encompasses a broad platform of activity, which includes Indigenous health reform. The issues listed below were noted by Humphrey (2001) as critical to the development of Indigenous health reform, and were recognised by the CRCAH as significant to the broader Indigenous Research Reform Agenda.
- involvement of Indigenous communities in the design, execution and evaluation of research
- defining the coordinating role of Indigenous community-controlled organisations
- consultation and negotiation defined in practice as ongoing and open to scrutiny
- mechanisms for Indigenous control and transformation of research
- mechanisms for ongoing surveillance of research projects
- processes to determine research priorities and benefits
- determination of ethical processes for the conduct of research in terms of consultation and negotiation
- transformation of research practices from 'investigator-driven' to a re-assertion of control by Indigenous community-controlled organisations over the research project and an adoption of the needs-based approach to research
- linkage between research and community development and social change
- the training of Indigenous researchers
- the adoption of effective mechanisms for the dissemination and transfer of research findings
- ownership and control of research findings by Aboriginal communities.
The CRCATH project that articulated the Indigenous Research Reform Agenda (IRRA) was called 'Action research for undertaking, managing and disseminating Aboriginal health research for improved health outcomes' (referred to as the Links Project). This project combined action research on the CRCATH’s own activity, with a broad exploration of national and international approaches to research reform.
The results of this project were published in the Links Monograph Series and informed much of the CRC for Aboriginal Health's development:
Henry, J., Dunbar, T., Arnott, A., Scrimgeour, M., Matthews, S., Murakami-Gold, L. & Chamberlain, A. 2002, IRRA 1: Positioning the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health, CRCATH, Darwin
J. Henry, et al. 2002, IRRA 2: Rethinking Research Methodologies, CRCATH, Darwin
J. Henry, et al. 2002, IRRA 3: Changing Institutions, CRCATH, Darwin
S. Matthews, M. Scrimgeour, T. Dunbar, A. Arnott, A. Chamberlain, L. Murakami-Gold & J. Henry 2002, IRRA 4: Promoting the Use of Health Research, CRCATH, Darwin
J. Henry, T. Dunbar, A. Arnott, M. Scrimgeour & L. Murakami-Gold 2004, IRRA 5: A Review of the Literature, CRCAH, Darwin
T. Dunbar, A. Arnott, M. Scrimgeour, J. Henry & L. Murakami-Gold 2004, CRCATH 1997–2002: Working Towards Change in Indigenous Health Research, CRCAH, Darwin