Position paper

Indigenous Data Sovereignty (IDS) refers to the right of Indigenous peoples to exercise authority over the collection, access, analysis and use of data that pertains to them.3 Control over data is an important element of exercising self-determination, framing needs and measuring impact in line with the perspectives, values and aspirations of Aboriginal communities.
Data is an important resource to support the development of strong, responsive, and impactful systems for Indigenous peoples. However, data is not a neutral resource, with large bodies of data about Aboriginal people focused on issues of deficit, disadvantage and difference, presenting Aboriginal people as a social problem and ‘justifying’ policies and practices that have negatively impacted on Aboriginal communities.
Exercising ownership of data about Aboriginal peoples is critical to supporting Aboriginal communities to make informed decisions about priorities and actions to support the social, cultural and economic development of our communities.

Key Recommendations:

  • Negotiate an agreement with Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat (AbSec) and Aboriginal communities to enable Aboriginal people to exercise greater authority over data routinely collected by the Department of Communities and Justice, consistent with the principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty.
  • Build the capacity and expertise of Aboriginal communities to engage effectively with data, through specialised training resources and establishing pathways for the development of technical expertise.
  • Ensure that Aboriginal children, young people, families, and communities are appropriately engaged in decision making about data, with the opportunity to have their feedback valued and recognised.

AbSec supports these principles, particularly with respect to data about the safety, welfare and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and families. Exercising authority over data about Aboriginal children and families is essential in empowering informed decision making and the exercise of self-determination by Aboriginal peoples, moving forward from harmful government policies that continue to impact on our communities.

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