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About our research agenda


In 2013, the NSW Government released OCHRE (Opportunity Choice Healing Responsibility Empowerment) – a community focused plan for Aboriginal affairs.

To support and inform the policy changes that flow from OCHRE we have built a research agenda for our time. Our agenda makes a calculated and, perhaps, historic shift in emphasising hope over despair, aspiration over services, and placing the transformation of the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and government at its centre.

Our agenda reflects our desire for a new narrative in Aboriginal affairs and demonstrates our commitment to embedding Aboriginal voices and perspectives into policy development and implementation. We cannot do this on our own. The extended research community will be critical in delivering the evidence that supports Aboriginal communities and the NSW Government to work together to determine what works, what’s worth trying and what success looks like.

Our research agenda, Transforming the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the NSW Government 2018-2023, can be found here.

Inside our research agenda

Our research agenda has eight chapters: Return of public lands to Aboriginal control/ownership, Aboriginal languages, Cultural capability of New South Wales public servants, Economic prosperity, Self-determination, Influencing the public discourse, Improving research and evaluation practice with Aboriginal peoples and communities, and the impact of Aboriginal perspectives on policy development. A summary of each chapter is provided below.

Our areas of research inquiry

Our agenda is wide-ranging and seeks answers to new questions about the relationship between First Peoples and their lands and languages, the cultural capability of the public service, the nature of Aboriginal economic prosperity, and the negotiations that must define self-determination – information needed to support a positive, respectful and enduring relationship between Aboriginal peoples and government.

For the next five years we will focus on eight areas identified as priorities by Aboriginal communities:

  1. How might conversations about land justice and land access be advanced?
  2. How can the Native Title Act and Aboriginal Land Rights regimes be better aligned to enhance complementarity?
  3. How is Aboriginal language custodianship determined and does this differ according to the status of the language? Who has the authority to make decisions about language and what responsibilities come with this? What relationship is there between activities to nurture and grow languages and community governance bodies that run or oversee these programs?
  4. How is cultural capability understood in the New South Wales public service and how is it practiced? What influences practice? How is genuine interest in and commitment to culturally safe practice established and maintained in public service practice? How do the cultures and ‘disciplinary’ knowledges of different departments facilitate or hinder implementation of the key principles contained in OCHRE?
  5. How is Aboriginal economic prosperity defined and who defines its meaning?
  6. What is the connection/s between land ownership and local economies? What works and what does not? How are the benefits (economic, social, cultural and wellbeing) of land recovery realised and how can such benefits be measured and evaluated?
  7. What are the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in New South Wales for self-determination and wellbeing? What does self-determination mean to them? How do they understand wellbeing and how do they think their community wellbeing could be improved? In what areas of life do they want greater decision-making and control?
  8. What is best practice advocacy, policy promotion and media reporting that highlights the strengths of Aboriginal people?