Digital Support for Indigenous Research Methodologies


  • Kathleen Clapham University of Wollongong
  • Helen Hasan University of Wollongong
  • Bronwyn Fredericks University of Queensland
  • Dawn Bessarab University of Western Australia
  • Peter Kelly University of Wollongong
  • Valerie Harwood University of Sydney
  • Kate Senior University of Newcastle
  • Marlene Longbottom University of Wollongong
  • Elizabeth Dale University of Wollongong



Indigenous Research Methodologies, Digital Support, Community Participation, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation, Social Network Analysis


Research undertaken by outsiders into issues of concern to Aboriginal communities frequently ignores community culture and the knowledge embedded within Aboriginal communities. Methodologies are adopted which perpetuate the colonialist mindset of non-indigenous Australians leading to failed solutions to Aboriginal problems. This paper describes an Aboriginal-led community-based research project, exploring the role of Aboriginal Australians in caring for, and transforming, their own communities. It focuses on the roles that Information Systems can play when providing an accessible platform for Aboriginal voices. The authors conducted an in-depth case study of one Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO), the Illawarra Koori Men’s Support Group (IKMSG). The research consisted of a social network analysis (SNA) of the inter-organisational links of the IKMSG; interviews and focus groups with members of the IKMSG and the co-design of their first website. The prominence of the IKMSG in the SNA maps suggests that its work in the community is highly respected and that the model produced by this research can act as a guide for success in other ACCOs. The findings have been used to develop a theoretical model of Aboriginal community engagement and intervention. This model can enable authentic outcomes to projects which address Aboriginal concerns and support the conduct of community-led research in Aboriginal communities.

Author Biography

Helen Hasan, University of Wollongong

Professor in Information Systems, School of Economics, Faculty of Commerce, University of Wollongong


ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2017) Census: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. 02D50FAA9987D6B7CA25814800087E03?OpenDocument. Retrieved 17/12/2018.

Australian Communications and Media Authority. (2008). Telecommunications in remote Indigenous communities. Canberra.

Armstrong, A., Buckley, S., Londsdale, M., Milgate, G., Kneebone, L.B., Cook, L. & Skelton, F. (2012). Starting School: A Strengths-based Approach. Towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children, Australian Council for Educational Research. Canberra.

Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. (2012). Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies. Canberra, AIATSIS.

Bessarab, D., Green, S., Jones, V., Stratton, K., Young, S. & Zubrycki, J. (2014). Getting it Right Creating Partnerships for Change. Integrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges in social work education and practice. Teaching and Learning Framework 2014. Office for Teaching and Learning: Australian Government.

Bessarab, D. & Ng’andu, B. (2010). Yarning About Yarning as a Legitimate Method in Indigenous Research. International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies, 3(1).

Bidwell, N. J., & Radoll, P. (2007). Redisplacement by design. Interactions, 14(2), 12-14.

Borgatti, S.P. (2005). Centrality and network flow. Social Network, 27, 55–71.

Borrows, J. (2010). Canada’s Indigenous constitution. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

Brereton, M., Roe, P., Schroeter, R. & Lee Hong, A. (2014). Beyond ethnography: engagement and reciprocity as foundations for design research out here. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1183-1186). ACM.

Carlson B., Jones L., Harris M., Quezada N. & Frazer R. (2015). Trauma, Shared Recognition and Indigenous Resistance on Social Media, Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 21.

Carlson B., Farrelly T., Frazer R. & Borthwick F. (2015). Mediating Tragedy: Facebook, Aboriginal Peoples and Suicide, Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 19, Special Issue on Research on Indigenous ICT.

Clapham, K. & Gosden D. (2001). Education and Indigenous Health in a Globalised World. AARE, Fremantle.

Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (2008). Handbook of critical and Indigenous Methodologies. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

Fforde, C., Bamblett, L., Lovett, R., Gorringe, S. & Fogarty, B. (2013). Discourse, Deficit and Identity: Aboriginality, the Race Paradigm and the Language of Representation in Contemporary Australia. Media International Australia, 149, 162-173.

Fogarty, W., Bulloch, H., McDonnell, S., & Davis, M. (2018). Deficit Discourse and Indigenous Health: How Narrative Framings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Are Reproduced in Policy. Deficit Discourse and Indigenous Health: How Narrative Framings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Are Reproduced in Policy, xii.

Foley, D. (2003). Indigenous Epistemology and Indigenous Standpoint Theory Social Alternatives 22(1): 44-52.

Fredericks, B.L. (2009). The epistemology that maintains white race privilege, power and control of Indigenous Studies and Indigenous peoples' participation in universities. Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association eJournal, 5(1), 1-12.

Fredericks, B., Adams, K., Finlay, S., Fletcher, G., Andy, S., Briggs, Lyn, Briggs, L. & Hall, R. (2011). Engaging the Practice of Indigenous Yarning in Action Research. Action Learning Action Research Journal. 17 (2), 9-20.

Fredericks, B., Longbottom, M., McPhail-Bell, K. & Worner, F. in collaboration with the Board of Waminda. (2016). Dead or Deadly Report. Waminda Aboriginal Women’s Health Service. CQ University, Australia: Rockhampton, 32 pages, ISBN: 9781921047169. Access at:

Freeman, L.C., Roeder, D. & Mulholland, R. R. (1979) Centrality in social networks: II. Experimental results. Social Networks, 2(2), 119–141.

Gorringe, S., Ross, J. and Fforde, C. (2011). Will the Real Aborigine Please Stand Up?’: Strategies for Breaking the Stereotypes & Changing the Conversation. AIATSIS Discussion Paper 28. Canberra, AIATSIS.

Gurstein, M. (2007). What is Community informatics? (And Why Does It Matter), Polimetrica, Milan.

Hanneman, R.A., Riddle, M. (2005). Introduction to Social Network Methods. University of California.

Hawe, P., Webster, C. & Shiell, A. (2004). A glossary of terms for navigating the field of social network analysis. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 58(12), pp. 971-975.

Hollinsworth, D. (2013). Decolonizing indigenous disability in Australia. Disability & Society, 28(5), 601-615.

Hunt, J. & Smith, D. E. (2018). Building Indigenous community governance in Australia: Preliminary research findings. Canberra, ACT: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Research School of Social Sciences, College of Arts & Social Sciences, The Australian National University. University, National Centre for Indigenous Studies.

Karripanon, K, (2016). A double edged spear: the social life of youth, mobile phones and social media in a remote Aboriginal community, University of Wollongong PhD Thesis.

Kral, I. (2010). Plugged in: remote Indigenous youth and digital culture, CAEPR working paper No 69/201, Australian National University, Canberra.

Latukefu, A. S. (2006). Remote Indigenous communities in Australia: Questions of access, information, and self-determination. In K. Landzelius (Ed.), Native on the net: Indigenous and diasporic peoples in the virtual age (pp. 43–60). London, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge.

Lin, I., Green, C. & Bessarab, D. (2016). ‘Yarn with me’: applying clinical yarning to improve clinician–patient communication in Aboriginal health care. Australian Journal of Primary Health. doi:10.1071/PY16051

Long, L.C., Cunningham F.C. & Braithwaite J. (2013) Bridges, brokers and boundary spanners in collaborative networks: a systematic review. BMC Health Service Research, 13.

Martin, K. & Mirraboopa, B. (2003). Ways of Knowing, Being and Doing: A Theoretical Framework and Methods for Indigenous and Indigenist Re-search. Journal of Australian Studies, 27, 203-214.

Martin, K. L. (2008). Please knock before you enter: Aboriginal regulation of outsiders and the implications for researchers, Teneriffe, Queensland, Post Pressed.

McCallum, K., Waller, L. & Meadows, M. (2012). Raising the volume: Indigenous voices in news media and policy. Media International Australia, 142(1), 101-111.

McGloin, C. (2009). "Considering the work of Martin Nakata's "Cultural Interface": a reflection on Theory and Practice by a Non-Indigenous Academic." The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 38, 36-41.

McMahon, R. (2014). From digital divides to the first mile: Indigenous peoples and the network society in Canada. International Journal of Communication, (8), 25.

Martin, K. (2003). Ways of Knowing, Being and Doing: A Theoretical Framework and Methods for Indigenous and Indigenist Re-search. In K. McWilliam, P. Stephenson, & G. Thompson (Eds.), Voicing dissent, New Talents 21C: Next generation Australian Studies (Vol. 76, pp. 203-214). St Lucia: University of Queensland.

Moreton-Robinson, A. (2000). Talkin'up to the white woman: Aboriginal women and feminism, Univ. of Queensland Press.

Nakata, M. (2007). The Cultural Interface. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, (36), 7-14.

Ngarruwan Ngadju (2017a). Interdisciplinary Indigenous Health Research Group in collaboration with the Illawarra Koori Men’s Support Group Caring for Community Research Report: Valuing the significant contribution of the Illawarra Koori Men’s Support Group. University of Wollongong.

Ngarruwan Ngadju (2017b). Interdisciplinary Indigenous Health Research Group with the Illawarra Koori Men’s Support Group. Caring for Community: Community Report. University of Wollongong

QSR International Pty Ltd. (2012). NVivo qualitative data analysis software; Version 10 (Version 10).

Rennie E., Thomas J. & Wilson C. (2019). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and digital inclusion: what is the evidence and where is it? Communication Research and Practice, 5:2, 105-120.

Rice, E. S., Haynes, E., Royce, P. & Thompson, S. C. (2016). Social media and digital technology use among Indigenous young people in Australia: a literature review. International journal for equity in health, 15(1), 81.

Rigney, L.-I. (2006). Indigenist Research and Aboriginal Australia. In N. Goduka, I & Kunnie, J. (Ed.), Indigenous People’s Wisdoms and Power: Affirming Our Knowledges through Narrative (pp. 32-50). London: Ashgate Publishing.

Sarra, C. (2011). Strong and Smart – Towards a Pedagogy for Emancipation: Education for First Peoples, New York, Routledge.

Smith, L. T. (2012). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples. (2nd Edition) Zed Books Ltd. (1st Edition 1999)

Stillman, L., Linger, H. (2009). Community Informatics and Information Systems: how can they be better connected? The Information Society 25(4), 255-264.

Turk, A. & Trees, K. (2000). Facilitating community processes through culturally appropriate informatics: An Australian indigenous community information systems case study. In Community Informatics: Enabling Communities with Information and Communications Technologies (pp. 339-358). IGI Global.

University of Wollongong Indigenous Multi-Disciplinary Health Research Coalition (2015). Illawarra Aboriginal Community Profile: a snapshot of an urban Aboriginal community, University of Wollongong, Wollongong.

Valente, T. W. (1996). Social Network thresholds in the diffusion of innovations. Social Network, 18(95), 69–89.

Vigo, K. G. M. (2017). One country: different voices-meeting the challenge of introducing Indigenous approaches to learning to non-Indigenous students. Creative work and exegesis.

Vodic, A., Senior, K., Dwyer, B. & Szybiak, P. (2012). A remote chance? The potential for Indigenous students to participate in online learning in remote communities in the Northern Territory, Charles Darwin University, Darwin.

Walker, M., Fredericks, B., Mills, K. and Anderson, D. (2013). ‘Yarning’ as method and process for community-based health research with Indigenous Women. The Indigenous Women’s Wellness study. Healthcare for Women International, 00, 1-11: 2013.

Walter, M. & Andersen, C. (2013). Indigenous Statistics: A Quantitative research methodology, New York, Routledge.

Walter, M. & Moreton-Robinson, A. (2010). Indigenous methodologies in social research (Online Chapter 22). In M. Walter (Ed.), Social Research Methods (2nd Edition), pp. 1-18. Australia: Oxford University Press.

Walter, M. & Suina, M. (2018). Indigenous data, indigenous methodologies and indigenous data sovereignty. International Journal of Social Research, DOI:10.1080/ 13645579.2018.1531228.

Williams, H., Hunter, K., Griffin, B., Kimble, R. & Clapham, K. (2021). Fire and smoke: Indigenous research methodologies exploring psychosocial impact of paediatric burns on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 20, pp. 1-14.

Wilson A., Carlson B. & Sciascia, A. (2015). Reterritorialising Social Media: Indigenous People Rise Up, Australasian Journal of Information Systems, vol. 19, Special Issue on Research on Indigenous ICT.

Wilson, S. (1998). Research Is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods. Fernwood Publishing.




How to Cite

Clapham , K., Hasan, H., Fredericks, B. ., Bessarab, D., Kelly, P., Harwood, V. ., Senior, K., Longbottom, M., & Dale, E. (2021). Digital Support for Indigenous Research Methodologies. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 25.



Research on Indigenous use of Information and Communication Technologies