Submission to the review of AIATSIS guidelines for ethical research in Australian Indigenous studies

Submission to the review of AIATSIS guidelines for ethical research in Australian Indigenous studies

22nd August, 2019

The Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) is conducting a review of the Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies. One major revision is the change from Guidelines to a Code of Conduct.

AAMRI supports the development of the new AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research (the Code). The Code is thorough, well thought through and provides a solid framework for undertaking ethical Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research.

AAMRI offered the following points for consideration:

  1. As far as possible the Code should be made clear as to which parts are suggestions and which parts are mandatory.  The language used in the document does appear to provide a great deal of discretion as to whether or not compliance with parts of the Code are mandatory.
  2. The Code could be strengthened by stating the requirement for an appropriate level of collaboration and consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that have contributed to the development of data collections, or other secondary research material, even when this research is exempt from ethical review according to the National Statement.
  3. The Code could also point out the necessity for researchers to ensure their actions do not further contribute to the negative experiences Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander have endured as a result of colonisation. Furthermore, the document could recognise that researchers have an opportunity through their research, and their engagement with Indigenous methodologies and knowledge, to advocate for positive changes within their own research organisation.