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

Michaela Spencer, Andrea Lee

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper presented at Conference (not in Proceedings)


One of the Fundamental Principles of Red Cross International is Voluntary Service; however, how this principle might be variously enacted and supported withindiffering cross-cultural contexts is far from given.

The IndigenousKnowledges and Governance Group in the Northern Institute at Charles DarwinUniversity have been working with Red Cross in the N.T. undertaking researchinto the material and social practices of voluntary service within threeAboriginal communities – one urban, and two on remote islands in the ArafuraSea.

These communitieshave quite distinct cultural heritages, and our research work has involveddeveloping and articulating different local research methods in each of thesethree contexts. These methods have taken seriously the institutionalisedknowledge and governance practices of Aboriginal people, and included Aboriginalknowledge authorities as co-researchers.

Beginning with asmall group of elders in each site, we have worked to develop research undertheir authority, including by recording of statements from cultural authoritiesin their own language, transcribing and translating them and undertaking aclose analysis of local contexts and practices. In this paper we present someof the key learnings we provided to Red Cross, and detail beginningnegotiations around ways of institutionally engaging differing types ofvoluntary service in the communities where we have worked.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventNational Volunteering Conference - National Convention Centre, Canberra, Australia
Duration: 6 Apr 20168 Apr 2016


ConferenceNational Volunteering Conference


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