Background: Researchers are required to seek consent from Indigenous communities prior to conducting research but there is inadequate information about how Indigenous people understand and become fully engaged with this consent process. Few studies evaluate the preference or understanding of the consent process for research with Indigenous populations. Lack of informed consent can impact on research findings.
Methods: The Picture Talk Project was initiated with senior Aboriginal leaders of the Fitzroy Valley community situated in the far north of Western Australia. Aboriginal people were interviewed about their understanding and experiences of research and consent processes. Transcripts were analysed using NVivo10 software with an integrated method of inductive and deductive coding and based in grounded theory. Local Aboriginal interpreters validated coding. Major themes were defined and supporting quotes sourced.
Results: Interviews with Aboriginal leaders (n = 20) were facilitated by a local Aboriginal Community Navigator who could interpret if necessary and provide cultural guidance. Participants were from all four major local language groups of the Fitzroy Valley; aged 31 years and above; and half were male. Themes emerging from these discussions included Research- finding knowledge; Being respectful of Aboriginal people, Working on country, and Being flexible with time; Working together with good communication; Reciprocity - two-way learning; and Reaching consent.
Conclusion: The project revealed how much more there is to be learned about how research with remote Aboriginal communities should be conducted such that it is both culturally respectful and, importantly, meaningful for participants. We identify important elements in community consultation about research and seeking consent.