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Review of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research ethics guidelines submission

This submission reflects the views of
Organisation Name: 
Indigenous Allied Health Australia
Personal Details
Specific Questions
Question 1: 
Broadening the guidelines to cover research across disciplines is a positive development, which IAHA considers will: - better reflect the holistic views/needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and align with the six core values (spirit and integrity; cultural continuity; responsibility; reciprocity; respect and equity) which underpin the guidelines; - be consistent with policies and approaches that increasingly recognise the need for effective action across the social,economic and cultural determinants of health and well-being (including effective strengths-based health promotion and prevention) approaches; - encourage inter-disciplinary research and interactions that have more relevance, meaning and prospects for translation and impact in communities; - provide a clear and accessible basis for researchers to engage, without adding complicated and unnecessary process to research activities; - support consistent and well informed ethical guidelines assessment.
Question 2: 
The information provided in Keeping Research on Track II (page 12) provides a good overview of the issues while being succinct. It may also be valuable to mention "Indigenous data sovereignty" and what that means in this context. The Guidelines document deals with Intellectual Property in a very summary form. It is preferable that applicants and others are familiar with both documents, however this cannot be assumed. Intellectual Property is an important issue which needs to be understood early in the research process, and specific knowledge is needed in this context. IAHA considers that both documents include sufficient stand-alone information to promote awareness of these issues.
Question 3: 
The availability of best practice case studies is likely to improve the quality of applications and subsequent research. It is likely that the availability and range of case studies will improve over time. It may therefore be more useful for the Guidelines to reference a site on the NHMRC (or other) website where case studies can be found (which can be updated regularly) than include them in the document specifically.
General comments

IAHA congratulates the NHMRC and the Indigenous Research Ethics Guidelines Review Working Committee on the draft guidelines presented for consultation.  We encourage the NHMRC to continue to work with the members of the Working Committee, the Lowitja Institute and others to ensure the promising gains made through this process are realised and built upon. 

The Guidelines are clear and informative.  IAHA supports the proposal that these documents be complemented with additional introductory, historical and contextual information on the NHMRC website: it is important that researchers have an appreciation of these issues, but not necessarily that they be embedded in the guidelines.

IAHA believes that the way in which researchers engage and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is instrumental to:

  • The quality of the research and the veracity of findings;
  • The prospects for research to deliver findings that are relevant and able to be translated into practice to improve sustainable improvements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to the population more broadly;
  • Demonstrating the capacity for substantial improvements to be made in health and related outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people guided by well-designed and conducted research; and
  • Contributing to the health, cultural, social and economic capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and the nation.


Page reviewed: 2 August, 2018