Respecting Culture: Research with Rural Aboriginal Community
Cultural sensitivity: easy to say, difficult to do! This chapter explores the process of doing cross-cultural research in the context of working with Aboriginal people. It follows our journey in search of methods to collect meaningful data and reveals the successes and struggles encountered. We address the question: “How do we maximize cultural sensitivity as white women doing research with Aboriginal people?” We share our experience in finding ways to do culturally sensitive research. The many ways that participants tell their stories, how to achieve a degree of trust and rapport with the communities, the elders, the individuals, their families and the service providers is examined.
Many Aboriginal people have good reason to be sceptical about research and doubt whether it is really useful to their communities. Aboriginal communities are often the focus of research but are rarely the recipients of tangible benefits of this intense interest. Given the history of research being “done to” Aboriginal people the importance of building relationships, showing respect and a willingness to learn is foremost in our minds when we embark on research. Researchers need to be cognisant of the history of exploitation within communities and the associated ongoing cultural dyslexia that characterises our society. We argue that cultural dyslexia is a result of dissonance, institutional racism and positivist research and management approaches that are preoccupied with “evidence”, data quality and outcomes and too often lead to the objectification of participants.
The need for research to be grounded in participatory methodologies such as action research and community-based ethnography is well documented. A reflexive approach is essential because it promotes community inclusion and confronts the traditional exclusivity in academic culture of research expertise. By sharing experiences and fostering a collaborative culture through research, we can learn from communities and we can undertake more meaningful research.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- American Psychological Association (2002). Guidelines for multicultural counseling proficiency for psychologists: Implications for education and training, research and clinical practice . http://www.apa.org/divisions/div45/resources.html . Cited 6 August 2002.
- Auseinet (2006). Australian network for promotion, prevention and early intervention for mental health. http://auseinet.flinders.edu.au/index.php
- Bailie, R. S., Si, D., O’Donoghue, L., & Dowden, M. (2007). Indigenous health: Effective and sustainable health services through continuous quality improvement. Medical Journal of Australia,186(10), 525-527. Google Scholar
- Brough, M., Bond, C., & Hunt, J. (2004). Strong in the city: Towards a strength based approach to Indigenous health promotion. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 15, 215-220. Google Scholar
- Carter, D. (2005). Appreciative enquiry. Training Journal, September, 25-28.Google Scholar
- Clayer, J. R., & Czeckowicz, A. S., (1991). Suicide by Aboriginal people in South Australia: Comparison with suicide deaths in the total urban and rural populations. Medical Journal of Australia, 154, 683-685. Google Scholar
- Henry, J., Dunbar, T., Arnott, A., Scrimgeour, M., & Murakami-Gold, L. (2004). I ndigenous research reform agenda: A review of the literature. http://www.crcah.org.au/publications/ downloads/IRRA5LinksMonographs.pdf.
- Keren, S. (2005). Self-harm. The Lancet, 366(9495), 1471. Google Scholar
- Latour, B. (1987). Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Liamputtong, P., & Ezzy, D. (2005). Qualitative research methods,2nd edition. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Matthews, S., Scrimgeour, M., Dunbar, T., Arnott, A., Chamberlain, A., Murakami-Gold, L. & Henry, J. (2002). I ndigenous research reform agenda: Promoting the use of health research. Links Monograph Series: 4. Casuarina: Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health.Google Scholar
- Mikhailovich, K., Morrison, P., & Arabena, K. (2007). Evaluating Indigenous community health promotion initiatives: A selective review. Rural and Remote Health, 7(746), 1-18. Google Scholar
- Newman, C. E., Bonar, M., Greville, H. S., Thompson, S. C., Bessarab, D., & Kippax, S. C. (2007). ‘Everything is okay’ : The influence of neoliberal discourse on the reported experiences of Aboriginal people in Western Australia who are HIV-positive. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 9(6), 571-584. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Oliver, K. G., Collin, P., Burns, J., & Nicholas, J. (2006). Building resilience in young people through meaningful participation. Australian e-Journal for the advancement of Mental Health, 5 (1), 1-7. Google Scholar
- Palsson, G. (1995). The textual life of Savants: Ethnography, Iceland and the linguistic turn (Studies in Anthropology and History) . London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Reason, P., & Bradbury, H. (2001). Handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice . London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Rifkin, S. B. (2001). Ten best readings on community participation and health. African Health Sciences, 1(1), 42-45. Google Scholar
- Rigney, L-I. (1997). I nternationalisation of an Indigenous anti-colonial critique of research methodologies: A guide to Indigenist research methodology and its principles . HERDSA Annual International Conference, Adelaide.Google Scholar
- Rigney, L-I. (1999). Internationalization of an Indigenous anti-colonial cultural critique of research methodologies: A guide to Indigenist research methodology and its principles. Emergent Ideas in Native American Studies, 14(2), 109-121. Google Scholar
- Silverman, D. (2001). I nterpreting qualitative data: Methods for analysing talk, text and interac-tion, 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Sonn, C. C. (2004). Negotiating identities across cultural boundaries: Complicating cultural competence with power and privilege. Critical Psychology: International Journal of Critical Psychology, 11, 134-149. Google Scholar
- St. Denis, V. (1992). Community-based participatory research: Aspects of the concept relevance for practice. Native Studies Review, 8(2), 51-74. Google Scholar
- Westerman, T. (2004). Guest Editorial: Engagement of Indigenous clients in mental health services: what role do cultural differences play? Australian e-Journal for the advancement of Mental Health, 3(3), 1-7. Google Scholar