Graeme Gower

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Australian Multicultural Interaction Institute


Faculty of Education and Arts


Kurongkurl Katitjin




Gower, G. C. (2012). Ethical research in Indigenous Australian contexts and its practical implementation. Proceedings of Innovative research in a changing and challenging world. (pp. 47-58). Phuket, Thailand. Australian Multicultural Interaction Institute.


This paper is based on a three year longitudinal case study involving a number of Indigenous Australian communities in metropolitan, rural and remote settings. It will briefly discuss current ethical guidelines which have been developed by the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for the conduct of research involving Indigenous Australian subjects (2003). These guidelines are in addition to the National Statement on ethical conduct in research involving humans (1999) and are aimed at incorporating values and principles of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander cultures in the conduct of research. In the case of Indigenous communities, research has historically been controlled and dominated by non–Indigenous researchers. In many cases, Indigenous involvement and ownership over the research activity has been minimal or nonexistent and the benefits of the research have not been shared by Indigenous participants and/or communities. The main focus of the paper will discuss issues arising out of the research process that occurred during the longitudinal study that impacted on ethics and the research study itself. Issues such as gaining consent from multiple sites, obtaining consent from afar, the wording of consent forms, the use of passive consent and the need for ongoing consent will be addressed. Despite following ethical research guidelines and promoting best practice in research, researchers in this study encountered issues which both supported and inhibited the research process. In closing, the paper will discuss the importance of observing Indigenous protocols during the research process and the need for Indigenous cultural competency training for researchers who research in Indigenous contexts.

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