Our research is both innovative and significant as it is the first to adopt a culturally-aware approach to examining the nature and interplay of facets of financial and commercial literacy within the context of Indigenous small business ownership in Australia, the proposed research will ensure appropriate protocols are adopted (Martin & Mirraboopa 2009) by acknowledging and adhering to culturally respectful research principles, emphasising social, historical and political contexts and privileging the voices, experiences and lives of Indigenous Australians (Rigney 1997).

Research both within Australia and overseas indicates that genuine engagement with Indigenous communities is important not just from a research perspective, but also in building resilience within these communities. This is done by gaining trust and respect, forming partnerships that involve co-created research, giving Indigenous communities control over the flow of research, the information that is generated and its dissemination. In this research project, we fell back onto the 5Rs of research which include respect, relevance, reciprocity, responsibility and relationships. This approach was evaluated using questionnaires, focus groups, and user observation studies. In line with the research questions of this study, the research adopts a multi-source, multi-informant design.

Phase one: complete

Project Establishment and Qualitative Data Collection - Complete

The first stage of data collection was qualitative. Indigenous and non-Indigenous interview participants were recruited via introductions made through Indigenous community groups, Government and research team networks and was spread across urban, regional and remote locations in Qld, NT, NSW and Victoria. All of the research team agreed on broad research themes and determined a series of prompting questions to be used during the interview process, which formed a semi-structured interview discussion guide.

Phase two: in progress

Survey (complete) and Comparative Analysis (in progress)

We have validated and augmented the variables relevant in answering each of the research questions in this study and developed a conceptual model that was empirically tested. We have:

  • developed and pre-tested the survey instrument prior to collecting the data to address each of the research questions and test the hypothesised relationships. Reliable survey measures were sourced and used in item development;
  • used relevant firmographic, financial and demographic items in the survey;
  • ensured that there was representativeness/validation of the survey instrument via (1) expert academic panel, (2) Indigenous business groups, and (3) pilot testing (in each respondent group, i.e. Indigenous, non-Indigenous small business owners; franchised/independent business owners).

This feedback assisted in guiding the development of the final survey questionnaire.

Phase three:

Reporting and Dissemination

This phase will involve producing a final project report which will be distributed to governmental bodies, holding a National Small Business Symposium and finalising conference papers and journal articles.

Considering the final results, the research team will investigate future research directions prior to the submission of the final report to the ARC. The project website will make all reports and resources available to interested stakeholders.

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