Challenging our own practices in Indigenous health promotion and research

Health Promot J Austr. 2008 Dec;19(3):179-83. doi: 10.1071/he08179.


At the 2006 National Conference of the Australian Health Promotion, Māori academic and public health physician Dr Papaarangi Reid challenged us to critique our own practice and asked whether health promotion needs to be de-colonised. In this paper, one Indigenous and two non-Indigenous researchers working within the Aboriginal community controlled health sector reflect on ways in which research and health promotion interventions with Indigenous populations challenge or reinforce the very values that have led to the disadvantage, neglect and apathy experienced by Indigenous populations in the first place. While our practice is framed by the principles of Aboriginal self-determination and community control, we suggest that de-colonising is not so much about the need to invent new research methods nor to search for research methods in traditional Aboriginal culture; it is much more about values, processes and relationships. We recognise the need to challenge the deficit model in health promotion and research, and we do not want to inflict any more damage to the community, through reinforcing stereotypes, creating fear, or contributing to further bad press. We argue for adopting a methodology that shifts power and enables Indigenous people to frame research in ways they want it framed, and for taking a holistic approach and focusing on community strength and resilience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Colonialism
  • Community Health Planning*
  • Community Participation
  • Community-Based Participatory Research*
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Culture
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Services, Indigenous*
  • Humans
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • Social Values / ethnology*
  • Vulnerable Populations