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Curtin University
Centre For Aboriginal Studies

Research in Indigenous communities

Curtin staff and students interested in working with Indigenous people, whether through teaching or learning programs, research or any other initiatives, need to take into consideration the following factors:

The history of Indigenous people in general

Most Indigenous Australian groups will be able to direct you to appropriate agencies or individuals in their region in relation to local historical and community relations and issues.

Indigenous diversity

Although Indigenous Australians may have common factors that unite them (such as the importance of land and kinship relationships) there is also a great deal of diversity between different groups that must be acknowledged and respected.

Protocols for entering and researching a community

If you're undertaking a University activity that involves entering an Indigenous community, or accessing community information, you must:

  • Inform the Director of CAS.
  • Be aware of cross-cultural issues relevant to Indigenous ethical conventions and social justice.
  • Ensure policies and procedures refer to relevant Indigenous ethical conventions and social justice issues.
  • Be aware of the role of CAS when they seek to teach, research or create images around Indigenous themes and ensure a coordinated approach to all Indigenous activity undertaken by the University.
  • Determine the following for the community in which you are planning to work:
  1. Do you require a permit to enter the community?
  2. Who is the first person to be seen within the community
  3. Will you be able to stay in the community? If so, determine whether there are any areas off-limits to you.
  4. Is it a dry (non-alcohol) community?
  5. What is the appropriate dress and body language for working with specific groups? For example, in some areas and/or with particular people it may be inappropriate to look directly into a person's eyes. Wearing revealing clothing may be considered rude.