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
Whatman, Susan L. (2007) 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. In Jeffery, Peter L. (Ed.) Australian Association of Research in Education (AARE) Annual Conference, November, 26th - 30th, 2006, Adelaide.
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
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 (1975; 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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