Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community governance of health research: turning principles into practice
Contributor(s)The University of Newcastle. Faculty of Health & Medicine, School of Medicine and Public Health
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AbstractProblem: Gaps exist in researchers' understanding of the 'practice' of community governance in relation to research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Design: We examine Aboriginal community governance of two rural NSW research projects by applying principles-based criteria from two independent sources. Setting: One research project possessed a strong Aboriginal community governance structure and evaluated a 2-year healthy lifestyle program for children; the other was a 5-year cohort study examining factors influencing the mental health and well-being of participants. Key Measures for improvement: The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia's 'Values and ethics: guidelines for ethical conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research' and 'Ten principles relevant to health research among Indigenous Australian populations' described by experts in the field. Strategies for Change: Adopt community-based participatory research constructs. Develop clear governance structures and procedures at the beginning of the study and allow sufficient time for their establishment. Capacity-building must be a key component of the research. Ensure sufficient resources to enable community engagement, conduct of research governance procedures, capacity-building and results dissemination. Effects of change: The implementation of governance structures and procedures ensures research addresses the priorities of the participating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, minimises risks and improves outcomes for the communities. Lessons Learnt: Principles-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community governance of research is very achievable. Next steps include developing a comprehensive evidence base for appropriate governance structures and procedures, and consolidating a suite of practical guides for structuring clear governance in health research.