NHMRC Public Consultations

Skip Navigation and go to Content
Visit NHMRC website

Review of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research ethics guidelines submission

This submission reflects the views of
Organisation Name: 
The University of Sydney
Personal Details
Specific Questions
Question 1: 
The University of Sydney is supportive of the new approach and agree that this is broadly reflected in the revised guidelines. One issue that has been identified is in relation to the section on ‘research agreements’ in both guidelines. Although we see value in the implementation of a research agreement, we are concerned that this requirement may not be appropriate for all research projects. The NHMRC may consider adding the words ‘where applicable’ within the first sentence of the ‘research agreement’ section of each of the guidelines.
Question 2: 
The University recognises and respects indigenous culture and rights. The Research Code of Conduct provides that researchers have special responsibilities towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Intellectual Property Policy 2016 includes specific provisions relating to intellectual property rights and indigenous people. The University suggests that the revised guidelines should include instruction related to any commercial development resulting from engagement with and use of Indigenous knowledges, spirituality or matters relating specifically to rights to cultural property. This should cover negotiation of benefit sharing arrangements with the provider(s) of such material which the provider(s) consider to be appropriate and valuable, while ensuring that such arrangements are documented and recorded.
Question 3: 
Case studies should be included about intellectual property and should provide references across a broad range of disciplines. Topics for other case studies: • Large datasets – The University of Sydney HRECs see an increasing number of ethics applications which seek access to large datasets for (teaching/learning/quality evaluation/public health) activities. A case study about the use of datasets which contain information predominantly about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would be beneficial. • Consultation with community – The requirement for consultation with community can be difficult at times where there is no clear single Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community to consult. For example research that seeks to explore Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences in an urban environment. Also, guidance on community consultation process and appropriate return to community activities for different types of research outputs would be beneficial (e.g. music, education, public policy). We suggest the NHMRC develop a protocol for community consultation that will provide researchers with clear guidance on what would constitute the minimum requirement for community approval for any given project. This protocol to be responsive to the range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and peoples and applicable across all FoR coded disciplines. Case studies of best practice in community consultation would provide useful support for researchers in developing their proposals. • Differing research discipline – Case studies of projects which reflect the broad scope of research disciplines beyond Health & Medicine, e.g. Arts and Music, Education, Veterinary Sciences, Sociology & Anthropology. • In finding good examples of case studies we suggest that the NHMRC undertake a specific project with universities, the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network and Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Higher Education to identify best practice in community driven research.
General comments

The University of Sydney (the University) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the NHMRC public consultation of the review of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research ethics guidelines. In compiling this response we have consulted Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) members, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership teams and the relevant University committees. Following this consultation no concerns have been conveyed to the Ethics Office.

We acknowledge the work which has gone into producing these guidelines and see it as an improvement on the current guidelines. Whereas the current guidelines were focused on health research, the University embrace the fact that the scope of both revised guidelines has been broadened to capture research across all disciplines.

Page reviewed: 2 August, 2018