Wis Wei Youpla Health - The methodology and research protocols behind an investigation into community participation into health education decision making for Torres Strait Islander girls

Year: 2006

Author: Whatman, Susan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
This paper focuses on the methodology and research protocols behind an investigation into the nature and extent of community participation in health education decision making for Torres Strait Islander girls. It was concerned with identifying stakeholders in health education for girls, describing the ways in which stakeholders participated in health education decision-making, and identifying the factors that promoted or inhibited community participation in health education decision-making.

The investigation was informed by several personal standpoints: firstly, that Indigenous communities would want to participate in education decision-making and, secondly, that community participation would be desirable in producing good outcomes for Indigenous students.

Given the necessity for critically reflective and emancipatory research methodology in Indigenous research contexts, a critical ethnographic case study approach was chosen for this single case study. Using Carspecken's (1996) stages of data analysis, primary records were reconstructed and dialogically negotiated with participants, to describe system relations. Such an approach allowed for power and control relations between researchers and research participants to be explicated, exposing both the privileged standpoint of the non-Indigenous researcher and giving voice to the usually marginalised Indigenous students. This approach was also congruent with specific Torres Strait Islander research protocols, informed by Ailan Kastom. Data analysis was informed by a framework of Indigenous community participation theory together with curriculum theory from Bernstein (1976; 1990; 2000).

Findings indicated a strong desire by community members to participate in health education decision-making at the school. The ability of all stakeholders to participate in health education varied, with teachers exercising the most power and students the least. Recommendations were developed that were intended to enhance greater community participation in health education decision-making for girls at this high school, and more generally in other Indigenous educational settings, grounded in a personal sense of ongoing responsibility to this Torres Strait Islander community.

Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education

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