About the presentation
Too often ‘Balanda’ (non-Aboriginal people) conduct research on or about aboriginal issues in Australia without the involvement of ‘Bininj’ (Aboriginal people *). This omission is despite comprehensive benefits of Aboriginal participation, including more effective and sustained outcomes and solutions. A team of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers in the Northern Territory have been engaged in participatory action research as part of the Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) initiative, funded by the Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP) of the Commonwealth Government. Since October 2014, the WCE team of non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal researchers have collaborated with ARPNet (Aboriginal Research Practitioners’ Network) to explore and evaluate community perspectives in two remote Aboriginal communities in West Arnhem. Using a combination of participatory research tools (including individual and focus group discussions, workshops and computer-assisted key interviews), the researchers sought to understand the aspirations, expectations, and capacities of remote Aboriginal people to participate in higher education. By working closely with key community leaders and stakeholders, opportunities were created for community members, organisations, researchers, University staff and public policy leaders to engage in mutually beneficial and authentic learning opportunities. ‘Both ways’ dialogue among the two teams of researchers and with each of the communities was considered vital. This dialogue supported ongoing learning between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal co-researchers throughout the research journey; and allowed space for both Bininj and Balanda knowledge systems and worldviews to be privileged.