The Aboriginal Community Engagement project is guided and informed by action research. As the name suggests, action research is about creating change through action. It is a democratic and inclusive way of working that is defined as “a systematic approach to investigation that enables people to find effective solutions to problems they confront in their everyday lives” (Stringer 2014). More of a philosophy than a methodology, action research is a preferred way of working with Aboriginal people because it can assist in the understanding and application of cultural protocols. It requires people to hold back, or “bracket”, the impetus to suggest immediately evident solutions to issues, to more systematically observe the associated issues, to reflect – think more deeply, carefully analyse the situation, and to formulate actions on that basis.
These processes are often articulated according to some well-known frameworks that map out the steps of action research. Stringer (2014) provides a useful set of steps based on a Look – Think – Act routine that is particularly relevant for working with Aboriginal people. Once participants have identified any issues of concern, they:
• Look at what is happening in relation to the issue and listening to what people have to say about it.
• Think about what they are seeing and hearing. This is a process of reflection and analysis whereby participants “distill” all the information acquired in order to identify key features of the situation.
• Act by formulating plans for actions that assist in resolving or addressing any issues or concerns.
Fig 1 An action research cycle