Culturally Adaptive Governance – Building a new framework for equity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research

Mr Daniel Duke1,2, Associate Professor  Luke  Burchill1,2

1The University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia, 2Melbourne Academic Centre for Health (MACH), Parkville, Australia

The purpose of this presentation is to outline the theoretical basis of a new Culturally Adaptive Governance Framework (CAGF) for research projects undertaking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) research. It will also outline early implementation and evaluation measures undertaken for the CAGF in a national Indigenous multicentre trial analysing whether the emerging technology of Flash glucose monitors help Indigenous Australians understand and manage blood glucose levels – the FlashGM Study. Current ethical and institutional conventions for Indigenous health research continue to fall short of community expectations. Typically, research projects are undertaken using traditional ‘top-down’ approaches to governance and hold inherent tensions between different governance styles and forms, such as market style influences from funding agencies, and more network style influences from community organisations. Alternatively, Indigenous governance successfully melds together different styles of governance and is a more appropriate form of governance in the context of Indigenous health research. However, empowering principles of Indigenous governance in mainstream environments is a major challenge for individual research projects and teams. We suggest new orientations for mainstream research project governance, predicated on translating theoretical and practical attributes of adaptive governance models to Indigenous health research. A critical allyship approach that fulfils commitments to a framework of truly ethical conventions for Indigenous health research by empowering Indigenous governance principles. The CAGF is a governance framework that identifies the realities of power, acknowledges the complexities of culture and emerging technologies, and foregrounds the principle of equity for mainstream Indigenous health research.



BA (Deakin), GDipIR, MA – DevSt/Gen (University of Melbourne). Daniel’s research interests are in applied ethics in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health contexts, with a particular focus on the complexities of culture and technology on ethical conventions for research.

MBBS (University of Melbourne 1999) PhD (University of Melbourne 2010) FRACP (2007) NHMRC Investigator (2020). Luke Burchill is a cardiologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and an Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne where he leads the Cardiovascular Health Equity Group.

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