Last year, Lowitja Institute made a submission to the national consultation to review NHMRC’s Indigenous Research Excellence Criteria (IREC) and facilitated consultation activities at the Institute’s 3rd International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2023.
We are pleased to see that the IREC review consultation report has taken consultation feedback seriously and has recognised the need for proper community engagement and the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ ways of knowing, being, and doing.
The IREC determine which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research gets funded. It takes into account factors such as benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and community engagement. The IREC were reviewed last year with the aim of improving the IREC and their impact.
The report has found the following:
- Criteria are still relevant, but need to be refreshed with current terminology to better reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ ways of knowing, being, and doing.
- Time to raise expectations (for example, community leadership/governance vs community engagement).
- Concepts that could be included: Indigenous knowledges, data sovereignty, translation, impact.
- Accountability – did people do what they said in their application?
- The 20 per cent threshold is confusing, and concern about potential to ‘game’ it – but it’s not clear what’s better.
- Resources to train and support IREC assessors and panel members.
- Seeking greater consistency in how IREC report is applied in scoring.
- A question for every funding application: how will this project benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health?