Collaboratively rethinking the nature and practice of voluntary service in three North Australian Aboriginal communities

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The Indigenous Knowledges and Governance Group in the Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University have been working with Red Cross in the Northern Territory, undertaking research into the practices of voluntary service within three Aboriginal communities – one urban, and two on remote islands in the
Arafura Sea. These communities have quite distinct cultural heritages, and our research work has involved developing and articulating different local research methods in each of these three contexts. These methods have taken seriously the institutionalised knowledge and governance practices of Aboriginal people, and
included Aboriginal knowledge authorities as co-researchers. Beginning with a small group of elders in each site, we have worked to develop research under their authority, including by recording statements from cultural authorities
in their own language, transcribing and translating them and undertaking a close analysis of local contexts and practices. In this paper we report on the outcomes of this research in each of the three project sites. In particular, we note the differing ways in which voluntary service work is understood and carried
out in these places, and potential future collaborations described by those with
whom we spoke. Presenting these accounts here, we suggest that it is productive
to recognise volunteering not only as a service offered to communities, but also as sets of practices through which community is constituted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-27
Number of pages19
JournalThird Sector Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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