ARPNet Director Dean Yibarbuk being filmed for the video ARPNet Dilly Bag in Ngukurr
“We are the eyes and ears of our own communities. We see how family suffers, and we see our family’s concerns about policy-making and decision-making from the government. They are worried about the changes happening across northern Australia, so we are there to get proper information so we can deliver something very important. Their voice needs to be heard.”
Dean Yibarbuk is one of the directors of the Aboriginal Research Practitioners’ Network (ARPNet) who speaks in the ARPNet Dilly Bag in Ngukurr video. ARPNet is a network of Indigenous research practitioners in Northern Australia. Through ARPNet, Indigenous people in northern Australia are trained in participatory and other research and evaluation tools, primarily in the field of natural resource management and livelihoods. ARPNet also assists in connecting these research practitioners with relevant research projects. First founded in 2007, ARPNet has since developed into a research and evaluation group providing services to government and other clients who want in-depth research with rigorous data collection tools and nuanced understanding.
ARPNet Dilly Bag in Ngukurr was released on the RIEL Vimeo channel for public viewing only a month ago. The film itself, a 15-minute walk-through of Dilly Bag research tools, reflects ARPNet’s self-determination focus. An Aboriginal-owned and operated media company – the award-winning Carbon Media – filmed the video, while ARPNet retained control of the storyline and content.
ARPNet Director Cherry Daniels filming for ARPNet Dilly Bag in Ngukurr
“This video was made for a lot of reasons,” ARPNet coordinator Hmalan Hunter-Xenie says of the video.
“The ARPNet Dillybag in Ngukurr video was designed to be a training aid for ARPNet members, to complement (ARPNet Associate Director, Dilly Bag developer and trainer) Dr Bev Sithole’s practical field guide The ARPNet Dilly Bag,” Hmalan explains. “The film also highlights the philosophy of ARPNet - doing research the Bininj way - it shows the research practitioners practising it. It’s to show other Indigenous people around the Australia and the world the sort of participatory research tools that we are finding really useful in local communities.”
Hmalan adds that the video was also directed at those research leaders currently contracting - or considering contracting – the services of ARPNet researchers. ARPNet Dillybag in Ngukurr shows these research leaders what tools ARPNet research practitioners are capable of using when they are out on the ground in the communities doing work.
“This video also provides a clear direction of the steps and protocols research practitioners follow to ensure quality control and other checks in a project,” Hmalan says. “Because these skills among the Indigenous research practitioners are new, there remains a level of scepticism among some organisations and researchers that Indigenous people can do research even with limited numeracy and literacy. This video proves they can and are doing it.”
In-depth and insightful research done in a good way by “us mob doing it ourselves and working with our people” is one of the founding concepts behind ARPNet. ARPNet grew out of the wish of the members to have Indigenous people doing their own research on their own communities on their own land, and it is this ownership and control that is underscored in the way research is done.
“ARPNet is something indigenous people have initiated and have grown themselves,” Hmalan explains. “That’s why it’s doing as well as it is, because it’s their vision.”
As for initial feedback on the video, Hmalan says it has all been positive so far. “People who have viewed it have emailed us saying it’s amazing, and we’ve had more researchers get in touch who want to enlist ARPNet,” she nods. “I know the members thought it was pretty flash,” she laughs.
Check out the ARPNet Dilly Bag in Ngukurr video »
Download Dr Bevyline Sithole's The ARPNet Dilly Bag field guide .pdf file here »