Research: A cultural bridge

Year: 2001

Author: Vallance, Roger, Tchacos, Liz

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Cross-cultural research brings one to the interface where personal, moral, and cultural sensitivities are active. This qualitative account takes as its context the vexed questions of Indigenous youth suicide, immersion into a culture not one’s own, listening across cultural experiences and the training of Indigenous research assistants to ensure that the inclusion of local peoples is not eroded.

In June and July 2001 a qualitative research project, using ethnographic methods of immersion and situating what is heard within the lived experience, is addressing the tragic experiences of high rates of Indigenous youth suicide in remote Kimberley W.A. communities. Local reference groups of community representatives, personal approaches to gatekeepers and clear ethical principles guide the research. To ensure cultural sensitivities are observed and work towards valid data collection methods as well as analysis, local research assistants are being trained to interface between the research team and the local peoples. It is hoped that this training will raise personal, local skill levels as well as achieve meaningful data in these remote communities. This paper explores the issues of building bridges between these communities by means of the research assistants’ training.