Building Capacity for Research: The Lowitja Institute

  • Komla Tsey


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.


  1. Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies & The Lowitja Institute. (2017). Changing the narrative in Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health research: Four cooperative research centres and the Lowitja Institute: The story so far. Melbourne: The Lowitja Institute.Google Scholar
  2. Boughton, B. (2000). What is the connection between Aboriginal education and Aboriginal health? In Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal & Tropical Health (CRCATH) occasional papers series, 2. Darwin: CRCATH.Google Scholar
  3. Katona, M., Cahil, R., Wumpa, E., Biritjalawuy, B., & Lowell, A. (2000). Indigenous health and education: Exploring the connections: A CRC research report. Darwin: Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal & Tropical Health.Google Scholar
  4. Malin, M. (2003). Is schooling good for Aboriginal children? In Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal & Tropical Health (CRCATH) occasional papers series, 8. Darwin: CRCATH.Google Scholar
  5. Thomas, D. P., Bainbridge, R., & Tsey, K. (2014). Changing discourses in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, 1914–2014. Medical Journal of Australia, 201, S1–S4. Scholar
  6. Tsey, K. (2001). Making research more relevant to the needs and aspirations of indigenous Australians: The importance of research capacity development. Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal, 25(1), 19–24.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Komla Tsey
    • 1
  1. 1.James Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

Personalised recommendations