Workshops being hosted on Waibene (Thursday Island) at the recently renamed Ngulaigau Mudh at the Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, James Cook University Campus, are empowering community members to proactively drive and engage in research.
Torres Strait Islander team members from the JCU Indigenous Education and Research Centre (IERC), facilitated the `Community Keeping Research on Track’ workshops, which are taking a game-based approach to helping participants understand their research rights and how to ethically partner with visiting researchers.
JCU’s Associate Professor Felecia Watkin Lui, Dr Sanchia Shibasaki and Ms Lynda Ah Mat lead participants through a problem-solving game that required open-mindedness, project management and communication skills.
Through the game, participants experienced the reality of working with researchers and identified ways to capitalise on these relationships to address community issues and successfully complete local projects.
Associate Professor Felecia Watkin Lui said evidence shows that when communities as end-users are proactively engaged in research, there is increased support and advocacy for change as well as greater interest in seeing research results translated into policy and practice.
She said the curriculum for the workshops has been adapted from the NHMRC's Keeping Research on Track (2018) which identifies 8 steps to the research journey. We focus on the first 2 steps of 'Building Relationships’ and `Developing the Research Idea’.
In reflecting on the workshop, participant Ms Sylvia Tabua said the game-based activity changed her way of thinking, especially when working with researchers.
Mr Frank Cook, who also took part, said he was proud to attend the workshop because it was run by Torres Strait Islanders who understand their people, the culture, and their own community.
“We are one of the most researched people in the world and we don’t often have a say in how that research is conducted or how it will be used once it leaves our region,” Mr Cook said.
“This workshop taught me how to better negotiate and utilise research for our benefit.”
Mrs Regina Turner, who also participated, said she connected with the workshop as a Mura Kosker Sorority Board member.
“In the past, our Board has worked with universities and researchers, but we didn’t receive any feedback or see results,” Mrs Turner shared.
“This workshop allowed me to reflect on those relationships and made me consider how we could have approached them differently.”
The Community Keeping Research on Track Workshops are due to be held again on Thursday Island in November, and is open to all community members. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The project is funded and supported by Hot North, the Australian Research Council, the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine and the Indigenous Education and Research Centre at JCU.