Respect: there is a difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous concept of respect

Wednesday, 3 July 2019
Dr Lorraine Muller

Respect is commonly cited as a key element of Indigenous research with guidelines such as the NHMRC 2018 Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, and AIATSIS GERAIS. However, respect does not have a universal meaning; its meaning differs between Indigenous and non-Indigenous mainstream Australians.

Respect emerged as a major theme in both of my PhD studies, the first documented Indigenous Australian Social-Health theory, and the second shifted the research lens to explore non-Indigenous mainstream Australian culture from an Indigenous perspective. In comparing the values and principles that construct both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian cultural identities it is clear that the concept of respect is very different. 

The culturally embedded meanings of respect are relevant for Indigenous research. A diverse area, Indigenous research includes Indigenous researchers, as well as being used to describe research on, about, or with, Indigenous peoples, not necessarily by an Indigenous investigator. Adding to this, there is an increasing use of Indigenous research methodologies inspiring non-Indigenous researchers. 

The simple act of knowing that Indigenous peoples understanding of respect is not based on the same values and principles as non-Indigenous people can have a transformative effect. Developing this awareness can help nurture what I refer to as Inter-Cultural Respect.