SUGGESTIONS OFFERED BY PARTICIPANTS FOR IMPROVING IDENTIFICATION
Participants spoke of the importance of appropriate question wording and response options. In particular, the grouping of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples under the umbrella term ‘Indigenous’ is seen as unacceptable. Participants also indicated a single, ‘Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander’ response category is unacceptable, and called for an opportunity to report regional/linguistic group membership as part of the identification process. Any review of the current wording of the Standard Indigenous Question or other questions about Indigenous status should involve a thorough consultation process. It was noted that the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, both as respondents and as data users, are integral to developing an effective and appropriate instrument for ascertaining Indigenous status. Participants also suggested that consistency (in the question and response options) across data collections may result in more consistent responses.
DATA COLLECTION APPROACHES
The contribution of data collection staff to factors influencing identification cannot be overlooked. Specifically participants recommended cultural awareness training for data collection staff. The need for such training to be frequent, thorough and delivered by appropriate facilitators was also discussed.
The attitude of data collection staff in relation to the Indigenous status question was also highlighted as a key part of the identification process. Participants discussed the need for staff to understand, and be able to explain, the reason for collecting the data, and the need for a positive interaction around identification. The impact of these factors on the process of collecting information about Indigenous status is not easy to quantify, but participants saw them as important in terms of encouraging and facilitating identification.
AWARENESS ON THE PART OF DATA COLLECTION AGENCIES
Participants discussed, at the broader level, the need for data collection organisations to be aware of the impact of identification on respondents. Potential consequences of identification (both intended and unintended consequences) should be known to, and acknowledged by, data collection organisations, and actions taken to create a safe, encouraging environment. If trends are apparent in service delivery, staff conduct, outcome or client experience on the basis of Indigenous status, it is the responsibility of the relevant organisation to understand these. It is also incumbent upon the data collection organisation to take appropriate action to remove impediments to identifying and/or negative impacts of identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in their data collection.