MHDCD Project

8.2.2. Establishing Indigenous Community research partnerships

The second phase of the approach involved identifying Indigenous communities interested in becoming partners in the research and developing an agreed partnership protocol. The rationale for this approach was a commitment to moving beyond some previous research in Indigenous communities, which have simply used community knowledge as research data without respectful reciprocity (Sherwood 2010; Laycock et al 2011). Our intention was to heed critical Indigenous research scholars who call for a process whereby cultural safety is paramount and where Indigenous communities that agree to participate control and own the knowledge and information that emerge (Sherwood 2010; Rowe, Baldry & Earles 2015). In the case of the project here, this ensured that communities were able to communicate on their own terms the issues for community members who have MHDCD, as well as for their families and services.

The Aboriginal researchers made initial contact with an identified Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (most commonly the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) in each community) as the key agency in that site that would be able to engage with community members and seek consensus as to whether to participate.  Engagement with communities continued at length throughout the project whereby Elizabeth McEntyre, Peta MacGillivray and Eileen Baldry followed up with multiple visits, telephone calls, teleconferences, written briefs and presentations to the potential sites in NSW and NT, and Chief Executive Officers, Board Directors, Aboriginal community members and representatives and Aboriginal workers in both Government and Non-Government organisations were consulted to acquire support for and endorsement of the Project. Once an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation in each community had decided that it was in the interests of the organisation and the community to participate and collaborate, a letter of support was provided as a requirement of ethics and a research agreement was negotiated between the IAMHDCD project and the organisation.

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