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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: 
CATSINaM believes the broadened focus of the revised guidelines to cover research across all disciplines is a positive development and that this broader scope is adequately reflected in both guidelines. To enhance this change CATSINaM suggests that the section ‘Scope of the Ethical Guidelines’ could follow directly after the section ‘Role of the Ethical Guidelines’ and the section ‘Related principles’ could be placed after ‘Intellectual property’ and before ‘The six core values’. CATSINaM believes this change would enhance the flow of information about the application of the guidelines to emphasise that they apply to all research and also place the important related principles besides the sections on intellectual property, research agreements and the core values. CATSINaM also believes that once the guidelines are finalised it will be very important to communicate the revised scope of the guidelines widely to stakeholders.
Question 2: 
The information in the guidelines on intellectual property is short and does not go into any detail about why intellectual property is important in this context nor does it mention copyright issues. CATSINaM considers that including information on intellectual property from the draft of Keeping Researching on Track II would strengthen the information on intellectual property in the Ethical Guidelines. To ensure that the recommendation from the evaluation of the previous guidelines on intellectual property (to ensure that privilege is given to Indigenous knowledge and cultural practices as part of the ethics and research process) is fully implemented, CATSINaM suggests that at a minimum the following paragraphs from Keeping Research on Track II are included in the Ethical Guidelines: “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Peoples have the right to assert ownership of the intellectual property related to the information that is provided to a research project, and it is important that these rights are respected. This means anything that is written, spoken or created by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, whether it is a story, a painting, a sculpture, an object, a dance, a song, or music (cultural practices), and any knowledge of their land, culture or kinship that is used to express their cultural identity, is considered to be the intellectual property of the contributor and should be respected as such (that is, contributors should maintain their intellectual property). It is acknowledged that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ intellectual property continues to expand via inclusion of contemporary creative and original works that have originated from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage. Additional information about intellectual property management and copyright, as these relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, can be found in the Australia Council for the Arts document Protocols for producing Indigenous Australian writing, including a checklist of things to consider. Further information is also included….” CATSINaM also believes that examples of intellectual property rights could be used as points to demonstrate some of the six core values of the guidelines, especially for cultural continuity and reciprocity. For example “demonstrate respect for the intellectual property rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples” or “consider how intellectual property and copyright generated through the research could benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.” In Keeping Research on Track II, throughout the ‘eight steps of the research journey’ concepts underlying intellectual property are touched on but it is not named until the final steps. CATSINaM suggests that consideration of intellectual property by the community could be emphasised earlier and more clearly throughout the process, for instance in the first step ‘Building Relationship’ community protocols can incorporate intellectual property and again in step three ‘developing the project and seeking agreement’ intellectual property could be emphasised. CATSINaM also suggests that in Keeping Research on Track II, the section on ‘Research Agreements’ (pg. 5) could articulate that agreements are about upholding rights (including ownership of intellectual property).
Question 3: 
CATSINaM believes that if possible short case studies would be positive inclusions in both documents particularly for intellectual property, negotiating a formal agreement, the right to participate and influence the research agenda and the eight steps of the research journey. A case study around the development of a community driven research agenda or project would be an empowering inclusion.
General comments

CATSINaM commends the process undertaken by the NHMRC to revise both of these documents. The commissioning of an evaluation by the Lowitja Institute and AIATSIS and the oversight of the expert working group is especially commendable. CATSINaM supports the full implementation of all of the recommendations made in the evaluation report. 

CATSINaM also considers that the historical context and introductory information for these document is very important and urges the NHMRC to ensure that this information is prominent and not lost by only placing it on the website rather than including it in the documents themselves. 

Page reviewed: 2 August, 2018