The project has received ethical clearance from Lancaster University. There is an understanding that the group is developing, collectively and consensually and in stages, its own protocols and that actions which potentially affect any one participant will have to receive unanimous support before they can be undertaken. The participatory and somewhat open-ended nature of the project means that staged consent will be sought from community co-researchers so as to ensure that participants are fully aware of the nature and implications of their participation. The project has the support of a range of Aboriginal organisations, some of which will act as host organisations for the community co-researchers, including Murri Mura Aboriginal Corporation, Kummara Association and ID&D. In Ashington, the project has the support of Community Organisers (http://www.cocollaborative.org.uk/) and Ashington Community Development Trust (http://www.ashingtoncdt.org.uk/). These organisations are each guided by ethical protocols and will ensure a duty of care for co-researchers and the people they work with during their research.
Funding has been provided by Lancaster University’s Knowledge Exchange Fellowship scheme and The Centre for Community Policy, Research and Development (CCPRD), Australia for two documentaries on the project. The participatory project involves members of two vulnerable communities visiting one another for extended, embedded periods of research on cultural responses to precariousness. The documentaries will explore the shared problems that the communities face and then record the work of the community co-researchers during the exchanges. Given the embedded nature of the work, given that the communities are vulnerable, and given that the project focuses on potentially sensitive elements of the participants’ lives, all participants have agreed that it is absolutely essential that the documentaries are made:
- in a sensitive manner
- in accordance with the interests of the participants
- for educational purposes
- with the participants having final editorial control over the output
- on the basis that the communities will receive a majority of the proceeds of any sale of the film
- by someone who has a background of producing documentaries on cultural and social issues, who is trusted by the communities and who is willing to travel to and stay with the communities during the periods of filming (1 month in Australia and 1 month in UK)
- in accordance with a tight budget
Roger Appleton, of Brightmoon Media, has a history of working with community groups to document issues of social and cultural concern. He has worked successfully with senior members of staff at Lancaster University, such as Prof Robert Geyer and Prof Linda Woodhead, on a range of projects, including the Westminster Faith Debates.
The project participants both in the UK and in Australia will be part of the film making process and will only agree to the release of the films once editing is completed. This right of veto is to ensure that the film does not compromise the interests or professional codes of conduct of the contributors, particularly in light of series such as Benefits Street.
As part of the knowledge exchange element, Roger Appleton will provide filmmaking training to the community co-researchers, which will enable them to understand the production process and take part, not just as ‘subjects’ of film, but as makers of the films, by gathering material themselves and contributing to the editorial content, specifically with regard to how they are portrayed.
The intention is for the documentaries to be sold to TV channels and educational institutions, with the revenue split equally between Roger Appleton, the Ashington community group and the Aboriginal Australian community group. The revenue will be channelled accountably through organisations with charitable status.
Fiona Aiken, Secretary of Lancaster University, will act as Independent Arbitrator for the documentaries. She will arbitrate in the case of any dispute between the parties in the development, filming, editing, production and distribution of the documentaries.