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Indigenous Data Rights with Distinguished Professor Maggie Walter



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It is long overdue that we, as organisations, and people in organisations, start to question our own thinking. And as a global society need to move toward making a systemic paradigm shift when it comes to Indigenous research and all that it encompasses. Today, we are joined by a very special guest, Distinguished Professor Maggie Walter, coming to us today from Nipaluna, Tasmania. Maggie is a Palawa woman who descends from the Pairrebenne people of north-eastern Tasmania and is also a member of the Tasmanian Briggs Family. She is a Distinguished Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of Tasmania and is still heavily involved in Indigenous data sovereignty space and anything Indigenous data related. Join our very timely conversation as Maggie takes us on a deep dive into Indigenous data sovereignty 101, the two sides of data collection, and the problem with AI and using existing data sets. We talk about different challenges with funding and how there is a massive requirement for a paradigm shift in Indigenous research. This is a loaded episode with great points of conversation including a global look at relationships with indigenes, why presuming research equals change is dangerous, and why Maggie is more after ontological disturbance rather than money and time. You don’t want to miss this episode, so start listening, and join the conversation.

Key points from this episode

  • An introduction to Maggie Walter, a Palawa woman and descendent of the Pairrebennes.

  • Maggie runs us through Indigenous data sovereignty 101. 

  • The statistical indigene and what colonisation has done to us. 

  • She explains the two sides of data collection. (7:50)

  • The problem with AI and using existing data sets: we always end as the problem. 

  • Thoughts on levers and tools aimed at shifting and solving the Indigenous data problem.

  • The starting point, humans, and why AI is scary as it relates to Indigenous data (collection).

  • She shares the challenges faced with Indigenous data collection. 

  • The challenges with funding and the required paradigm shift for Indigenous research.

  • Why Indigenous research projects can’t be concentrated in health and should diversify.

  • Her encouragement to challenge and flip mindsets with relationships to first peoples.

  • We take a global look at other countries and their relationships with Indigenous peoples. 

  • The danger of presuming research equals change. 

  • Maggie divulges why she doesn’t do advisory committees anymore. 

  • The need for ethics codes. 

  • Why systemic change can only be done in increments.

  • A discussion on who owns Indigenous data and the benefits, or lack thereof, of AI.

  • Maggie tells us why she’s after ontologic disturbance rather than money and time.


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