Indigenous Research at Social Work

The department of social work envisages Indigenous research across all three areas of research inquiry, where Indigenous peoples’ priorities, experiences and knowledges are at the centre of research to improve health, wellbeing and safety outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities

The approaches to Indigenous research will vary according to stakeholder assumptions, the aims of a study and limitations such as time and budget. However, all Indigenous research at Social Work complies with the NHMRC’s Ethical guidelines for research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research 2020, developed by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

The use of Indigenous advisory groups is an important component of best practice in Indigenous Research as they can support the self-determination and control of Aboriginal communities over the research in Indigenous priority areas. Social Work has its own Indigenous Research Advisory Committee comprised of Indigenous staff, Elders, consumers, and social work researchers to nurture authentic relationships and partnerships between Indigenous communities and researchers and explore best practice in this area.

Given the legacy of harmful research on Indigenous populations, as well as the skills and knowledge required to conduct research in Indigenous contexts, the preference for many Indigenous communities and participants is that researchers are Indigenous. To build and sustain Indigenous research activity, Social Work maintains a strong commitment to, and focus on, research capability building and career development of Indigenous researchers as drivers of Indigenous knowledge production.

The department supports Indigenous graduate researchers to undertake research in our priority research areas. This is demonstrated by a growing Indigenous graduate research cohort, including several Indigenous PhD students undertaking studies in the field of narrative practice in partnership with the Dulwich Centre in Adelaide. Our commitment to supporting Indigenous PhD students is also reflected in our active engagement in an International Indigenous PhD research network that is connecting and supporting Indigenous graduate researchers in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Norway.

Social Work supports Indigenous research staff and PhD graduates to pursue dedicated funding opportunities for Indigenous researchers, such as University of Melbourne Indigenous postdoctoral scholarships, and Australian Government Indigenous research grant schemes and early career fellowships, and to connect with Indigenous research activity across the University.