How does one engage in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities? My experience as a researcher in the Seasons for Healing project gave me an opportunity to consider this question. Using an interpretive ethnographic approach, it became evident that I needed to recognize participants as whole people, not as mere instruments on which to conduct research, and that this engagement needed to occur in a relational way. Although I was an ‘outsider’, I was able to engage in dadirri, the process of listening with one’s ear but also with the heart. At the cultural interface, it was important to recognize the validity of different types of knowledge and that research should be conducted ethically and respectfully so that the interests of Indigenous communities were considered. Indeed, it was reinforced to me that there were different ways of knowing and each type of knowledge needed to be accorded validity. Respectful listening and reflective communication enabled me to experience life and culture from a different perspective and to gain insight via a different paradigm.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
- reflective communication
- respectful listening
- Seasons for Healing