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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2009 Feb;33(1):51-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2009.00338.x.

Engaging with Aboriginal communities in an urban context: some practical suggestions for public health researchers.

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School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



In this paper, one Indigenous and two non-Indigenous public health researchers reflect on our combined experience of over thirty years in Aboriginal health, in order to develop some practical guidelines, particularly for researchers working with urban Indigenous population groups.


Public health research is important not only to address the health inequities experienced by Australia's Indigenous populations, but also to build knowledge and confidence and to inform practice in Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations. Ethical guidelines and previous research experience demonstrate that researchers need to engage with the communities that may be involved in or affected by the research they propose. Although more than half of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population live in urban and regional centres, most research and commentaries address the health and social issues of remote communities. Researchers often do not know how to engage with urban Aboriginal communities and how to approach the particular research challenges within this context.


The practical guidelines suggested in this paper may assist public health researchers to conduct ethical health research that is planned and carried out in a culturally appropriate way and that will benefit urban Aboriginal people. While not intended to be prescriptive, we believe that the lessons learned in Victoria will be applicable to other urban Indigenous contexts around Australia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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