Data involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has many legal and ethical considerations and needs to be managed and shared with care.
About Indigenous data
It’s also important to understand the role of self-determination and the need for people to be involved in managing cultural heritage in ways that are meaningful to them. This includes how their cultural, linguistic and medical data is used.
The ARDC is working with the Indigenous Data Network (IDN) so Indigenous communities can grow their technical capability and resources to manage their own data. The IDN leverages developments in the data sciences to maximise the optimal collection, access and use of data resources for community empowerment.
Protocols and research guidelines
Data about First Nations peoples sometimes involves a mediated access level, requiring potential users to meet specific conditions. Researchers, data managers and data custodians need to respect potentially different understandings of the world and to manage information and knowledge in step with these cultural differences.
Read on to explore resources to help you manage Indigenous data ethically.
General advice for the Australian context
- Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies’ access and use policy and ethical research guidelines
- Australian and Torres Strait Islander Library, Information and Research Network protocols
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archives protocols
- National Health and Medical Research Council’s ethical conduct guidelines and Keeping research on track II
- Torres Strait Regional Authority cultural protocols.
Guidance from individual communities
- Ninti One Protocol for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Knowledge and Intellectual Property
- Ninti One Aboriginal Research Engagement Protocol Template
- Ninti One Aboriginal Knowledge and Intellectual Property Protocol: Community Guide
- Ninti One Guidelines to Good Manners
- Yolŋu research dhukarr: Yolŋu and Balanda working together in research, encouraging culturally responsive research processes
Traditional Knowledge (TK) Labels
TK Labels is an international metadata label system that can be customised by Indigenous communities and organisations.
The labels add existing local protocols for access to and reuse of recorded cultural heritage that is digitally circulating outside community contexts and control. They help non-community data users understand these materials’ importance and significance to the communities.
TK Labels can be used to add information that might be considered ‘missing’, including the name of the community that remains the creator or cultural custodian of the material, and how to contact the relevant family, clan or community to arrange appropriate permissions.
The labels use icons that are consistent internationally and cannot be changed. But the text can be translated into different languages.
Indigenous data tools and platforms
There are a growing number of tools and platforms available for Indigenous communities, and those who work with their data, to help store, maintain and organise the data in culturally sensitive ways.
- The Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures has a Nabu catalogue platform that can be reused by others.
- The Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language has a portable data repatriation system that can be used in remote communities with no internet.
- Keeping culture is a knowledge management system for Indigenous archives – a web application for preserving, organising and repatriating digital or digitised media and cultural knowledge into communities.
- Mukurtu is a free, mobile and open source CMS built with Indigenous communities to manage and share digital cultural heritage.
- Global Indigenous Data Alliance
- National best practice guidelines for data linkage activities relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Charles Darwin University’s videos on access, cultural protocols, and Indigenous research methodologies
- Indigenous Data Sovereignty
- Maiam nayri Wingara