AIATSIS Code of Ethics

Review of the Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies (GERAIS)

For twenty years the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) has provided national and international guidance in the ethical practice of research concerning Indigenous peoples. We are committed to improving the standards of engagement and the benefits that research can offer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Following the announcement on 1st July 2019 of the release of the Consultation Draft of the AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research (AIATSIS Code of Ethics) the period for submissions has now closed.

Thank you to those who provided feedback on the consultation draft. We received an overwhelming large number of submissions during the consultation period. We welcome the high level of engagement and the range of approaches reflected in the responses. It is encouraging to see users of the document pulling together teams, organisational leadership, elders and community groups within the sector to discuss the impact and implementation of the AIATSIS Code of Ethics.

We have received around 70 submissions from:

  • Indigenous organisations
  • National and international Universities
  • Research organisations
  • Government departments
  • Human Research Ethics Committees
  • Individuals

The responses generally supported the following key points:

  • The Code retains a clear link to United Nations Declaration on the  Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP)
  • The change from guidelines to a code demonstrates the authority of the document and the importance of the standards it contains.
  • The Code reflects the perspectives and expectations of Indigenous communities engaging with research
  • The changes address the major issues that organisations, researchers and HRECs have experienced

While feedback on the guidelines has generally been positive, there were a number of suggestions for improvements or concerns over the implementation of the Code that we will consider over the coming weeks.  These cover areas such as compliance and enforceability; institutional responsibilities; the relationship with other codes and guides and some issues in relation to specific applications in fields such as native title.

AIATSIS will continue to work closely with the National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Australian Research Council (ARC) and Universities Australia (UA) to ensure that the Code is successfully integrated with the broader framework for ethical and responsible conduct of research in Australia.

AIATSIS will continue to build the community of practice in Indigenous ethical research and support the implementation of the Code by increasing the suite of practical tools and resources and delivering training and workshops both face to face and online.

The next steps will involve synthesising the feedback into a revised draft for review by key stakeholders and final consideration by the AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee, Research Advisory Committee, Senior Executive Board and the AIATSIS Council. 

The publication of the final Code is expected in early 2020.

For further enquires, please contact ethics@aiatsis.gov.au

AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research

Supporting Resources 

Last reviewed: 17 Sep 2019