Melbourne Law School - Research Publications

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    Ethics guidelines use and Indigenous governance and participation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research: a national survey
    Burchill, LJ ; Kotevski, A ; Duke, D ; Ward, JE ; Prictor, M ; Lamb, KE ; Kennedy, M (WILEY, 2022-10-17)
    OBJECTIVES: To assess the use of NHMRC Indigenous research guidelines by Australian researchers and the degree of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governance and participation in Indigenous health research. DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS: Cross-sectional survey of people engaged in Indigenous health research in Australia, comprising respondents to an open invitation (social media posts in general and Indigenous health research networks) and authors of primary Indigenous health research publications (2015-2019) directly invited by email. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Reported use of NHMRC guidelines for Indigenous research; reported Indigenous governance and participation in Indigenous health research. RESULTS: Of 329 people who commenced the survey, 247 people (75%) provided responses to all questions, including 61 Indigenous researchers (25%) and 195 women (79%). The NHMRC guidelines were used "all the time" by 206 respondents (83%). Most respondents (205 of 247, 83%) reported that their research teams included Indigenous people, 139 reported dedicated Indigenous advisory boards (56%), 91 reported designated seats for Indigenous representatives on ethics committees (37%), and 43 reported Indigenous health research ethics committees (17%); each proportion was larger for respondents working in Indigenous community-controlled organisations than for those working elsewhere. More than half the respondents reported meaningful Indigenous participation during five of six research phases; the exception was data analysis (reported as apparent "none" or "some of the time" by 143 participants, 58%). CONCLUSIONS: Indigenous health research in Australia is largely informed by non-Indigenous world views, led by non-Indigenous people, and undertaken in non-Indigenous organisations. Re-orientation and investment are needed to give control of the framing, design, and conduct of Indigenous health research to Indigenous people.
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    Culturally Adaptive Governance—Building a New Framework for Equity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research: Theoretical Basis, Ethics, Attributes and Evaluation
    Duke, DLM ; Prictor, M ; Ekinci, E ; Hachem, M ; Burchill, LJ (MDPI AG, 2021)
    Indigenous health inequities persist in Australia due to a system of privilege and racism that has political, economic and social determinants, rather than simply genetic or behavioural causes. Research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (‘Indigenous’) communities is routinely funded to understand and address these health inequities, yet current ethical and institutional conventions for Indigenous health research often fall short of community expectations. Typically, mainstream research projects are undertaken using traditional “top-down” approaches to governance that hold inherent tensions with other dominant governance styles and forms. This approach perpetuates long-held power imbalances between those leading the research and those being researched. As an alternative, Indigenous governance focuses on the importance of place, people, relationships and process for addressing power imbalances and achieving equitable outcomes. However, empowering principles of Indigenous governance in mainstream environments is a major challenge for research projects and teams working within organisations that are regulated by Western standards and conventions. This paper outlines the theoretical basis for a new Culturally Adaptive Governance Framework (CAGF) for empowering principles of Indigenous governance as a prerequisite for ethical conduct and practice in Indigenous health research. We suggest new orientations for mainstream research project governance, predicated on translating theoretical and practical attributes of real-world ethics, adaptive governance and critical allyship frameworks to Indigenous health research. The CAGF is being implemented in a national Indigenous multicenter trial evaluating the use of continuous blood glucose monitors as a new technology with the potential to improve diabetes care and treatment for Indigenous Australians—the FlashGM Study. The CAGF is a governance framework that identifies the realities of power, acknowledges the complexities of culture and emerging health technologies, and foregrounds the principle of equity for mainstream Indigenous health research.