5 June, 2024

Lowitja Institute’s latest policy discussion paper, ‘Ethics in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research’, has identified a suite of reforms needed to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research is conducted to the highest ethical and governance standards, with the greatest impact on improving health outcomes for our communities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and researchers from across these lands have long expressed concerns that, despite the existence of several guidelines and a national commitment to uphold and promote ethical health research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, current ethics approval processes:

  • do not fully uphold key values and principles
  • fail to properly incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and knowledges
  • do not ensure adequate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices.

Accordingly, this discussion paper, developed by Associate Professor Michelle Kennedy (Wiradjuri) and Dr Jamie Bryant, presents key findings from a scoping review of academic and grey literature that aimed to identify key gaps in ethical processes and practices for health research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Lowitja Institute commissioned this discussion paper based on Associate Professor Kennedy’s work leading the Murru Minya study – a national study that aims to develop new knowledge about the implementation of ethical processes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, and to issue practical recommendations to strengthen research processes, build the research workforce and ultimately improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We call on universities, research institutes, research funders, and relevant government agencies in all jurisdictions to implement the recommendations put forward in this discussion paper. Doing so will move us closer to a research landscape that respects, upholds, and promotes the ethical principles and values that are essential when conducting research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Read the discussion paper

Read more about the Murru Minya study

Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land across Australia and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

pattern