Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Professor Gary Partington

Second Advisor

Professor Quentin Beresford

Abstract

Research in Indigenous Australia has historically been controlled and dominated by non-Indigenous researchers. However, recent national research guidelines which have been developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and together with a number of other research guidelines that have been developed by other institutions, including the Australian Institute for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), have signalled a shift towards Indigenous ownership and control over research. However, despite these revised guidelines, researching in Indigenous contexts can still result in cultural insensitivities, neglect or disregard by researchers and mistrust by Indigenous participants. Similar issues have also been expressed by Indigenous academics such as Moreton-Robinson, Rigney and Nakata who advocate for further reforms in Indigenous research.

This thesis presents a documentary study on the application of the NHMRC’s ethical research guidelines of research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. A unique case study has been chosen to examine the adequacy of the 1991 and 2003 guidelines in conducting ethical research and best practice in Indigenous contexts. The case study evaluation reveals that good ethics practice can be compromised by third parties who are involved in the research process but are not subject to ethical conduct and secondly, by the absence of cultural competence training in research. To minimise risks and to develop effective relationships between researchers and participants, cultural competence training is advocated in this thesis.

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