Setting the Rules: The Development of the NHMRC Guidelines on Ethical Matters in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research
New Zealand Bioethics Journal 2003 February; 4(1): 14-19
From 1986 to 1991 the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council in close consultation with Australian Indigenous organisations embarked on a process of formulating ethical guidelines for the conduct of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. These guidelines were drafted under the direction of the National Aboriginal and Islander Health Organisation, reviewed by an NHMRC appointed Aboriginal Working Party, and eventually published -- though not formally ratified -- as the interim NHMRC Guidelines on Ethical Matters in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, 1991. This article briefly documents this lengthy and sometimes difficult process, offering an account of the events and actions that led to the release of the 1991 interim guidelines. In doing so, the paper illustrates some of the ways in which the processes and politics of 'Western' health research have been debated and confronted within the context of Indigenous/non-Indigenous relations in Australia.
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