Effective communication tools to engage Torres Strait Islanders in scientific research
Jones, A., Barnett, B., Williams, A.J., Grayson, J., Busilacchi, S., Duckworth, A., Evans-Illidge, E., Begg, G.A., and Murchie, C.D. (2008) Effective communication tools to engage Torres Strait Islanders in scientific research. Continental Shelf Research, 28 (16). pp. 2350-2356.
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Often, research activities in Torres Strait have not delivered full benefit to Torres Strait Islanders due to a lack of consultation, ineffectual communication of research information and lack of empathy for the needs of Islander communities. As for other stakeholder groups, integration of Islanders into the research process through practical involvement in research may overcome these problems. Three case studies from research projects conducted in Torres Strait are discussed to highlight a variety of communication and engagement activities carried out by non-Indigenous researchers. How these communication and extension activities facilitate collaboration between Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous researchers provides insight in the importance of these activities to the relative success of research projects.
The benefits for Islanders in collaborating with researchers may be: improved understanding of the research and how it contributes to natural resource management; a sense of control in future management decisions; a greater likelihood of successful self-regulatory management systems; enhanced skills; and increased employment opportunities. The potential benefits for researchers are enhanced support for research projects resulting in increased access to data and logistic support that may ultimately impact the successful completion of projects. Such an approach will require researchers to take time to develop relationships with Torres Strait Islanders, effectively involve Islanders in research on an equitable basis and be flexible. This will ultimately require funding organisations to recognise the importance of such activities in research proposals and provide support through sufficient funding to enable these activities to be carried out.
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