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Review of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research ethics guidelines submission

This submission reflects the views of
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Specific Questions
Question 1: 
The NATSIHEC commends the working group for broadening the scope of the guidelines to cover research across disciplines. The language is broad enough to be applicable to all disciplines.
Question 2: 
The NATSIHEC supports the statements contained within the guidelines related to the protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ intellectual property and fully endorses the explicit articulation of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
Question 3: 
The NATSIHEC supports the inclusion of case studies as mechanisms for providing pragmatic approaches for communities and researchers. The guidelines are very useful resources to support induction of new researchers and students in the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research and for affirming good research practice of experienced researchers in the field. These documents continue to be used as a valuable tool for Non-Indigenous people entering into research collaborations and partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The NATSIHEC proposes an additional case study is included that articulates the responsibilities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the researcher working with their own and/or other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. There are particular research, familial and community roles required by this type of researcher. A related case study would provide support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and communities whilst promoting greater understanding of this phenomenon by Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) members. It is important than the case study demonstrates the nature of different cultural contexts and that ethics principles and guidelines should not be overly prescriptive. This is particularly important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers who exercise negotiated ethical research practice throughout the research process with and within their communities. The NATSIHEC encourages consideration of an additional case study or separate advice mechanism aimed at researchers that supports completion of the Human Research Ethics Application (HREA) aligned to the principles contained in the guidelines. For example where a researcher has a negotiated agreement with a community this could be appended to the HREA as a separate artefact or be worked into the project proposal. The NATSIHEC remains a very strong supporter of the work undertaken by the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (NIRAKN). As a special initiative of the Australian Research Council, the NIRAKN has capacity built Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and students within a culturally and intellectually rigorous framework. The NATSIHEC encourages the systemic development of understanding and good research practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for all of the actors within the Australian human research ethics sector, including members of HRECs. Quality training and support for HRECs is vital to promote understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and their aspirations for and within research partnerships.
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Page reviewed: 2 August, 2018