Our Project - the qualitative study - continued

In order to recommend ways of improving access to birth certificates and birth registration we are interviewing Indigenous Australians in Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, in both the cities and rural and remote areas.

We need to speak to Indigenous people who have themselves experienced problems with birth registration, either for themselves or for their children.  We are also keen to talk with those who have had problems with obtaining a birth certificate or otherwise had difficulty proving who they are, whether it be for the purpose of getting a drivers licence, accessing  or obtaining a bank account, employment, tax file numbers, passport or in any other situation.

We are also would love to people who have decided, for their own reasons, not to try to obtain a birth certificate or register their own children.

The process we are using to identify people who may fall into any of these groups is called “snowball sampling”. It is a variant of  finding people by “word of mouth” or “networking”. An initial group of people who have experienced such problems, identified  by Indigenous organisations, are being approached to see whether  are willing to take part in the research. They, in turn, are asked about others they know of who have experienced such problems.  We then see if these people would be willing to be interviewed, and so forth. 

We also hope that some who become aware of the project, through the media or the internet or by word of mouth, may approach us directly to speak of their own experiences. (If you are in such a situation yourself, or know of others who are,  please see the “Got a story to tell” page for information about how to contact us.)

The information people provide us with will be analysed and used to suggest ways of improving access of Indigenous Australians to birth registration processes and identification documents.

Where people we interview have ongoing problems related to birth registration, certification or personal identification we will also endeavour to assist them to resolve their problems by adopting a “go-between” role with relevant government agencies and Indigenous non-government organisations, seeking ways to resolve their problems, or provide them with contact with others who may be able to help them.

We are also speaking with people who work for Indigenous organisations, government bodies and others who have a role in providing or using birth or identity documentation or in helping others to obtain them.


Lynette Russell

Professor Lynette Russell is Chair of Monash Indigenous Centre, Monash University.  She has published widely in the areas of Aboriginal History, post-colonialism and Indigenous Australia and representations of race.

Lynette’s focus is on developing an anthropological approach to the story of the past. The driving force in all of her research is an exploration of the sociology (and socio-politics) of knowledge: seeking to understand not merely the past but how we come to know it - how we describe, categorise, interpret and analyse it.

Rod Hagen

Rod Hagen is an anthropologist who has been working with Indigenous communities since 1975, when he was engaged by the Central Land Council, Alice Springs to perform land related research.

Rod has worked for Indigenous communities and organisations in  Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, the NT and New South Wales, undertaking research in connection with Native Title claims, development proposals, and social and environmental impact.

He is currently undertaking a PhD in Law through Monash University.