Deakin University

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Research ethics, reconciliation, and strengthening the research relationship in Indigenous health domains : an Australian perspective

journal contribution
posted on 2007-05-01, 00:00 authored by Megan-Jane JohnstoneMegan-Jane Johnstone
Australia has one of the best health care systems in the world. Despite this, the health of Indigenous Australians remains poor in comparison to non-Indigenous Australians and in comparison to other Indigenous peoples in other developed countries, such as Canada, the USA and New Zealand. Although the disparities in Indigenous health are the result of a complex array of interacting social and political processes, the historical failings of the nation's research endeavours to directly benefit the health status of Indigenous peoples are bring increasingly implicated in the status quo. Because of their shared memories of past bad experiences, Indigenous communities are profoundly distrustful of non-Indigenous health researchers. As a result of this distrust, opportunities to improve the performance, accountability and benefits of health research in Indigenous health domains are being lost—to the further detriment of the health of Indigenous peoples. In an attempt to redress this distrust and strengthen the research relationship in Indigenous health domains, various national research ethics guidelines and frameworks have been developed. It is evident, however, that if the research relationship in Indigenous health domains is to be improved, researchers need to do much more than merely uphold prescribed rules and guidelines. This article contends that if the research relationship in Indigenous health is to be strengthened, health researchers must also engage in the distinctive political processes of ‘recognition’ and ‘reconciliation’. In support of this contention, the processes of recognition and reconciliation are described, and their importance to improving the overall performance, accountability and benefits of Indigenous health research explained.



International journal of intercultural relations






391 - 406




Amsterdam, The Netherlands





Indigenous content

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Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2006, Elsevier