Indigenous Research: A Commitment to Walking the Talk. The Gudaga Study—an Australian Case Study
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Increasingly, the role of health research in improving the discrepancies in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in developed countries is being recognised. Along with this comes the recognition that health research must be conducted in a manner that is culturally appropriate and ethically sound. Two key documents have been produced in Australia, known as The Road Map and The Guidelines, to provide theoretical and philosophical direction to the ethics of Indigenous health research. These documents identify research themes considered critical to improving the health of the nation’s Indigenous peoples. They also provide values that, from an Indigenous perspective, are foundational to an ethical research process. This paper examines these research themes and values within the context of a current longitudinal birth cohort study of Indigenous infants and children in south-west Sydney: the Gudaga Study. Considerable time and effort have been invested in being true to the values stated in these documents: reciprocity; respect; equality; responsibility; survival and protection; and spirit and integrity. We have learnt that it is vital to be true to these values when conducting Indigenous health research—to quite literally “walk the talk”.
This paper is the result of close collaboration between the Indigenous (LJP) and non-Indigenous authors (JK, EC, EH). The writing process was based on Indigenous models of care and thinking. The authors wish to acknowledge the input of the Gudaga Research Team including Chief Investigators Dr Pippa Craig, Prof Mark Harris, Prof Richard Henry, and Dr Lynn Kemp, Dr Kelvin Kong*, A/Prof Dennis McDermott*, Prof Peter Smith and Associate Investigators Alison Derrett, Dr Bin Jalaludin, Brendon Kelaher*, Dr Jenny McDonald, Sharon Nicholson*, Vicki Wade*, Darryl Wright* as well as our Project Officers Cheryl Jane Anderson* and Heidi Sainsbury* (* Indigenous).
The Gudaga Study wishes to acknowledge the Tharawal people of south west Sydney. Without the cooperation and enthusiasm of these traditional land owners this study would not be possible. We also thank all the participating mothers who are involved in this study. We simply could not undertake this work without their willingness to invite us into their lives and homes. The support Gudaga receives from our local Area Health Service, Sydney South West Area Health Service is also acknowledged.
The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
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