JCU Connect Ethics and Research Integrity Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Ethics

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Ethics

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Ethics Application must be submitted if the research project:

  • Involves or will be conducted in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community;
  • If the target participants of the study are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
  • If the recruitment population of the study is likely to include a significant number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, i.e. health population studies, certain school populations.

The Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) reviews all applications in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council’s guidelines:

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ethics application consists of:

You can also use the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Human Ethics Application Form for submission to the James Cook University HREC. It is recommended that this form be used if you are conducting any research that requires multi-institutional/multi-health service district approvals.

Read the Guidelines to Complete an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ethics Application (PDF, 141 KB) before you draft your application. These guidelines can be found on the Forms and Downloads page within this section of the JCU Connect website. Once you have a draft ready and your Supervisor/s (if applicable) is satisfied with the document, you need to forward the application to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ethics Advisor for review. This review can take time, so please take note of the Closing Dates for Submission of Ethics Applications.

Once the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ethics Advisor has reviewed and signed the application ready for submission:

Submission details:

Email one electronic copy in one pdf file to ethics@jcu.edu.au. The pdf file should include the ethics application and any attachments such as checklists, information sheet, consent form, etc. If the application and attachments are not submitted as one pdf file it will NOT be accepted and you will be asked to resubmit in one pdf file.

Please note: Any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ethics application received after the closing date for a meeting will be held over to the next meeting of the Human Research Ethics Committee.

Any incomplete applications or applications submitted without the appropriate signatures will not be submitted to the HREC for review.

If you are intending to conduct a research project with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples or communities, the design of your project must respect and take into account the values, and cultural protocols of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

When the views and cultural, values, beliefs and practices of researchers and participants differ there is potential for miscommunication, misunderstanding, and breach of cultural protocols leading to disrespect, mistrust, inaccurate interpretation of data and negative research outcomes. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that researchers include on their research team an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person to assist in the research process and ensure positive outcomes for all stakeholders.

You could include an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person as a:

  • Principal, Co or Associate Investigator;
  • Co or Associate Supervisor (if an honours or postgraduate student);
  • Cultural broker;
  • Cultural mentor; or seek advice from a Reference Group.

You should decide what guidance and support you need for your project in the planning stage of the study. When planning the study you must ensure that the roles and responsibilities of the members of the research team are defined and include the following:

  • Clearly defined responsibilities and level of involvement of all parties is documented and signed off by all parties.
  • The Principal Investigator, Cultural Broker, Mentor or Reference group are consulted about relevant world views, cultural values and beliefs and protocols in the development of the research proposal and ethics application.
  • There is appropriate payment and/or workload recognition and acknowledgement in reports, presentations and publications of those involved in the project.
  • Regular meetings are scheduled and kept, notes are documented by the researcher and clarified by the cultural broker/mentor/reference group.

Note: If the Cultural Broker or Mentor is playing a leadership role in the project then that person should be named as a Co-Investigator on the project. If you are assisted by people who recruit participants, negotiate and draft research agreements, analyse data, write reports for you, collect data on your behalf from participants in the study, i.e. conduct interviews, focus groups etc, and act as a language interpreters then these people should be employed on the project and paid as research assistants or project officers rather than listed as cultural brokers or mentors.

Any ethics application received after the closing date to Human Ethics Advisors will be held over to the next meeting of the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). Meetings are held on the last Wednesday of each month, except for December. There is no January HREC meeting.

HREC decisions will be released 7-10 working days after the meeting date. Most applications are approved at the meeting submitted, but the HREC may request further details or amendments from applicants or a resubmission of an application to the next meeting of the HREC. In planning your research project, please allow a maximum of two months for passage of your application from submission to approval.

Low/Negligible risk ethics applications can be submitted at any time as they are reviewed on a continual basis and do not have a deadline for submission.

Closing dates for Human Ethics Applications for 2019

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Ethics Advisors are academic employees of James Cook University who review ethics applications involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in accordance with National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, 2003 and the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, 2007.

The Advisor can offer advice on a draft of your application in relation to these guidelines and assist you to understand what is required before your application is submitted to the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) for review. The Advisor provides a recommendation to the HREC on the application. Advisors are also asked to provide advice to the HREC on ethical issues in relation to research conducted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

Learn more.