Over the last three decades, New Zealand, Australia and Canada have been travelling toward developing a coherent, consistent and respectful approach to human research ethics review for research that involves indigenous populations.
All three countries have grappled with similar histories and current developments so eloquently summarised in the introduction to chapter 9 of the Canadian Tri-Council policy and paraphrased here.
Research involving indigenous peoples has been defined and carried out primarily by non-Aboriginal researchers. The approaches used have not generally reflected indigenous world views, and the research has not necessarily benefited indigenous peoples or communities.
As a result, many indigenous people continue to regard research, particularly research originating outside their communities, with a certain apprehension or mistrust.
However, this landscape of research involving indigenous peoples is now changing. Growing numbers of indigenous scholars are contributing to research as academicsand community members as researchers while communities are better informed about the risks and benefits of research.
In this presentation, we provide a brief account of the development of guidance for the ethical conduct of research involving indigenous peoples in New Zealand and Australia. We seek to identify matters of substance and process that remain in need of clarification in future developments of that guidance, for example, how are the subjects of research determined and when and how do researchers need to consult with indigenous participants?