Building Indigenous Leadership in Research: Role of Universities
Building Indigenous Leadership in Research: what role can universities play
Historically, Australian research has progressed from relegating Indigenous Australians to the status of non-consenting subjects to acknowledging them as participants, even collaborators. Further scientific enlightenment, in which Indigenous people are recognised, indeed sought, as research leaders is welcome and inevitable and here. My personal observations, based on over 3 decades as a non-Indigenous biologist closely engaged with the practice, policy and research of Indigenous land and sea management, are that Indigenous Australians are increasingly asserting their presence in the research sector by requiring improved ethical standards that respect Indigenous rights, by creating consultation and policy documents that identify Indigenous priorities, and by establishing organisations that access research dollars and nurture Indigenous researchers. The renaissance of Indigenous intellectual authority reflects a growing recognition by Indigenous people that research, particularly that led by Indigenous people, provides a means of re-asserting control over country lost through colonisation, of reinstituting traditional custodial responsibilities, and of building livelihoods based on the use and enjoyment of natural resources. In this talk I’ll examine several examples of Indigenous-led research involving community-based rangers in remote (and highly photogenic places) in north Australia. I’ll explore what I think contributed to their success - or otherwise, and attempt to contribute to the debate within the University of Sydney about effective ways to support Indigenous leadership and engagement in science.