MHDCD Project

3.3.1 Indigenous methodology

The methodology of the IAMHDCD project takes these critiques as central and is informed by the work of critical Indigenous theorists such as Rigney (1999), Tuhiwai Smith (1999, 2012), Sherwood (2010) and Moreton-Robinson (2013). Great harm has been caused as a result of research that was done ‘on’ or ‘to’ or ‘for’ Indigenous communities rather than ‘with’ Indigenous people and ‘with’ Indigenous communities. For example, Sherwood (2010, 30-31) has documented the ways in which many non-Indigenous researchers do not examine their own cultural biases nor explore the systems and circumstances that have contributed to Indigenous people’s poor health status, and as a result produce ill-informed constructions of Indigenous people that enable government departments and health professionals to implicitly and explicitly blame Indigenous people for their own poor health. As the research is decolonising, empowering and Indigenist, the commonly used approaches by those in the academy and elsewhere to researching Indigenous peoples in Australia are deconstructed and the project’s methodology is embodied with cultural and professional integrity (McEntyre, forthcoming). Indigenous academics have led the critique of colonising methodologies and practices in research, challenging academics to produce research that is ‘more respectful, ethical, sympathetic and useful’ (Tuhiwai Smith 1999; 2012) in relation to Indigenous peoples. Privileging the worldviews, contexts and voices of Indigenous individuals, organisations and communities was a primary consideration in conducting this research, given the ongoing complexity of trauma, marginalisation and disadvantage experienced by Indigenous people as a result of colonisation (Baldry and Cunneen 2014; Rowe et al 2015). Indigenous critical feminist scholarship is prescient, particularly given the disproportionately high levels of violence experienced by Indigenous women and children (Davis & McGlade 2006; Payne 1992; Atkinson 1990), in particular those with mental and cognitive impairments. 

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