Collaborative research as an anti-poverty tool: a research partnership between police and indigenous Australians

This paper reports on a collaborative research project that shows how participatory social research can be used as a strategy for combating social exclusion. The Crime Prevention Partnership Project brought together dominant and disempowered groups to explore social issues of mutual concern and identify potential solutions. Indigenous Australian undergraduate students played a central role in this project, working with the police as customer service trainees and with the university as members of a project research group. This project became an opportunity to train and empower new researchers who, as people from disadvantaged groups, brought their own knowledge, concerns, and worldviews to a research process that they helped design and carry out themselves. The result was a learning process for all involved, referred to here as multidirectional empowerment. It led to tangible bridge building between mainstream, powerful institutions and a disadvantaged community. The project process offers a model for using participatory research as a framework in which to address development issues.