Building Capacity for Research: The Lowitja Institute
For social research to be meaningful for Indigenous Australians and, for that matter, any community of people, the intended beneficiaries of the research must be in the driver’s seat. Informed consent is simply not enough in social research. The research community must be involved in formulating the research questions as well as finding answers. To make this possible, social researchers need to get involved in building research capacity as a core component of their projects. Communities must be resourced and supported to develop the capability to do their own research, set their own priorities and make informed decisions about research that affects them. This type of capacity development may include funding, mentoring, training, scholarships, awards and placements for individual people from the research community. It may also involve creating systems, processes and capabilities in community organisations whose core business is not research. It is also important that communities have control and a real say in the funding for research. This story about the development of the Lowitja Institute and its predecessors, the Cooperative Research Centres for Indigenous health, illustrates the importance of agency, capacity and community control in terms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research.
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