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Review of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research ethics guidelines submission

ID: 
30
This submission reflects the views of
Organisation Name: 
Curtin University
Personal Details
Specific Questions
Question 1: 
Curtin recognises that the multi-disciplinary focus is not reflected in language of the documents, and in attempting to focus on multi-disciplinary research there appears to be a loss of specificity for some disciplines which makes the document ambiguous and difficult to apply to all discipline areas.
Question 2: 
Curtin considers intellectual property (IP) primarily a governance issue, however it recognises the importance of ownership and IP in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The documents lack specificity relating to “background IP” and “generated IP”, and there is no provision for consideration of other contractual arrangements with funding bodies, or other third parties. Information regarding IP and ownership very broad, which is understandable, however it lacks reflection on the nuances of different types of research, and indeed different types of IP for different types of research. Of particular note is the notion of a “formal agreement”. Perhaps softer wording around agreements should be included, and a risk based approach should be adopted in circumstances where are an agreement is needed or would be of benefit. In addition to this, no guidance is provided in the document to the community (or the institution) about who signs off on such arrangements or if communities need to seek legal advice. Finally issues around students, students thesis and the copyright associated with thesis’ or publications are not mentioned. Curtin recommends careful consideration of the information presented to research participants and communities about IP and copyright.
Question 3: 
Case studies may be useful, however clear articulation of application of the principles, rather than case studies, may be more beneficial. If case studies are to be included, perhaps a bank of case studies on a website which the documents refer to will ensure these are regularly updated and are more dynamic and agile to keep up to date with the changing research environment. Case studies may be useful in the areas of: • How informed consent may be obtained. • Examples of how participants can start conversations about research or driving research. • Examples of multi-site and multi-state cases that have worked well and how they worked well. • Examples of positive experiences with government research, mining research, university research etc. • Examples of what happens when things go wrong and how they were resolved.
General comments
Comments: 

Curtin welcomes the continued review of guidelines and appreciates the attempts to simplify these documents. Curtin congratulates the IREG Review Working Committee on their work, and appreciates the efforts to ensure the health, wellbeing and safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

 

Linking of the Ethical Conduct in Research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Communities: Guidelines for Researchers and Stakeholders (Ethical Conduct) with sections of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (National Statement) is positive, and helps bring the documents together.

 

The shift from “equality” to “equity” is a positive change to the document. So too is inclusion of the terminology “cultural continuity”. This, in conjunction with the monitoring and customs focus, is a positive step.

 

The National Statement provides a comprehensive section (4.7) on conducting research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, so too does the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies guideline entitled Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies. There are currently four guidelines researchers conducting research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples need to comply with. There are at times conflicting and largely redundant information between all four documents. These factors make research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and indeed researchers who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, overly burdensome and bureaucratic, and potentially puts research at risk.

 

The explanatory material refers to respect of the “shared values of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples”. Curtin would like to acknowledge that there are shared values but also diversity amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

 

Curtin congratulates the IREG Review Working Committee on their commitment and effort into the redraft of the Ethical Conduct in Research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Communities: Guidelines for Researchers and Stakeholders and Keeping Research on Track II. The continued review of research guidelines for institutions, researchers and participants is welcomed. Curtin thanks the IREG for the opportunity to provide feedback on the documents as part of the public consultation call.

Page reviewed: 2 August, 2018