Participant Information

The following information explains what the Alone Together project is about and provides and idea of what participation in the project interviews would involve. Feel free to contact us if you want to confirm your participation or would like to receive more information.

1. Introduction

You are invited to take part in this research project, which is called Alone together in a time of COVID19.

You have been invited to participate because we want to understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on the everyday life (e.g. family, socialisation, health) of older people from culturally and linguistic diverse (CALD) backgrounds. You have been invited because you contacted a researcher on the team about the project.

This Participant Information Sheet tells you about the research project. It explains the processes involved with taking part. Knowing what is involved will help you decide if you want to take part in the research. Please read this information carefully. Ask questions about anything that you don’t understand or want to know more about.

Participation in this research is voluntary. If you don’t wish to take part, you don’t have to. If you begin participating, you can also stop at any time.

If you decide you want to take part in the research project, the researchers will record your verbal consent (that is, your agreement to participate) at the start of the interview.  

You will be emailed a digital a copy of this Participant Information and Consent Form to keep.

2. What is the purpose of this research?

The aim of this research is to understand the experiences of older adults from culturally and linguistic diverse community backgrounds during COVID-19 and how the measures that have been put in place to spread the stop of the virus have affected different aspects of your everyday life. We are particularly interested in whether technology has played a part in making you feel more connected (or not) to your family, community or services. This understanding will help us to develop information for organisations that provide services to older people.

The research team involves people with a range of research backgrounds including: RMIT University, University of Melbourne, Monash University and Bendigo Hospital staff. A short summary about each member of the research team is provided at the end of this Information Sheet.

3. What does participation in this research involve?

If you decide to take part in this project, you will be asked to be in an audio-recorded digital

interview or phone interview with one of the research team.

If you would like to participate, please phone or email Dr Ruth De Souza to indicate your interest. Dr De Souza will phone you and ask your preferred days and times for the interview, preferred digital platform or phone number, any topics you do not want to discuss. You may choose to be interviewed via a phone call or video chat (e.g. Skype, Microsoft Teams, with or without your video on).

Dr De Souza will then phone you or email a calendar invite with the interview day and time to you and your interviewer.

On the day of the interview, at the agreed time, your interview will be conducted online or phone by one of the research team. The researcher will provide details about the project and answer any questions you have. They will ask you to email the consent form to them and talk about whether there are any topics you do not want to discuss.

Once you are both ready (and, for digital interviews, have confirmed that the software works), the researcher will let you know when they have started audio-recording. Even if you use a video chat program, only the audio of the interview (e.g. what you say) will be recorded.

During the interview, the researcher  will ask you about your experiences migrating to Australia, about your routine before COVID-19 and the impact that social distancing measures have had on these routines. We will also invite you to share your opinions and ideas about technology and what might help you feel more connected to your community and the things that might improve your access to social and health services.

The expected length of the interview is between 30 and 60 minutes, but this will be determined

by how much or how little you want to say.

As part of the project you will be invited to share two important objects from your home with your interviewer. You may wish to do this when you are interviewed by video or send a photo to the interviewer.

After the interview, you will be emailed your interview. You will be asked to indicate any information that you want to be removed from the transcript. Transcripts will be fully de-identified before the analysis. You will be asked to provide a pseudonym that we will use in research publications and outputs. After your approval, the transcription will be shared with the research team.

There are no costs associated with participating in this research project, nor will you be paid.

4. Other relevant information about the research project

We are aiming to talk to 15 to 20 older people in this pilot (first) stage of the project. 

5. Do I have to take part in this research project?

Participation in any research project is voluntary. If you do not wish to take part, you do not have to. If you decide to take part and later change your mind, you are free to withdraw from the project at any stage. You may stop the interview at any time and ask for any recordings and information you have provided to be erased and not included in the study results. You may also refuse to answer any questions that you do not wish to answer during the interview.

If you do decide to take part, you will be given this Participant Information and Consent Form to sign and you will be given a copy to keep.

Your decision whether to take part or not to take part, or to take part and then withdraw, will not affect your relationship with the researchers, RMIT University or with other organisations involved (University of Melbourne, Monash University, Bendigo Health, NARI) or your service providers.

6. What are the possible benefits of taking part?

There will be no clear benefit to you from your participation in this research. However, your participation will contribute to a better understanding of the effects of COVID-19 on the life of older people.

7. What are the risks and disadvantages of taking part?

Participation in the study is not expected to have any particular risks for interviewees. While people often find it helpful to talk about their experiences with researchers, you may become upset or distressed during the interview. If this happens, you may ask to change the topic of discussion, take a break, or end the interview. In the unlikely event of any distress as a result of your participation in the research project, members of the research team will be able to discuss appropriate support for you. Participants may also contact Dr De Souza, or other members of the ethics team to debrief about the project.

Dr De Souza is an experienced mental health nurse and therapist with over 30 years’ experience and all the researchers have experience with sensitive issues. Support day or night is also available from Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. The Lifeline helpline can also provide 24 hour support on 13 11 14. If you need an interpreting service to use these services, you can call The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) which is available 24 hours a day, every day by calling 131 450.

8. What if I withdraw from this research project?

You may stop the interview at any time. You can also choose to not answer any questions during the interview. You will have up until you return your transcript to us to withdraw from the project. If you decide to withdraw at this point, all recordings will be deleted.  It will not be possible to remove information pertaining to you from academic publications, such as books, chapters, articles or conference papers, once they are published. You will however not be identifiable in any such publications.

9. Who is organising and funding the research?

This research project is being conducted by Dr Ruth De Souza and colleagues from RMIT University, Monash University, Melbourne University, Bendigo Health and the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI).

10. What happens when the research project ends?

The findings from the research will be used to inform resources for older people from CALD backgrounds, as well as inform future stages of this project. The research may also be published as creative outputs or in academic journals, as books chapters or as a book, news media articles, and/or presented at conferences. This may take 12 months or more. It is anticipated that the results of this research project will be published and/or presented in a variety of forums. In a publication and/or presentation, information will be provided in such a way that you cannot be identified, except with your express permission.

11. What will happen to information about me?

By signing the consent form, you consent to the research team collecting and using information from you for the research project and future related research. Any information obtained in connection with this research project that can identify you will remain confidential. The audio recording will be professionally transcribed. Photographs, audio files and transcripts will be kept on a secure RMIT server for seven years. Only your interviewer and Dr De Souza will have access to your audio-recording or any transcripts or photographs that identify you.  After data has been de-identified, only the research team will have access to the data. After seven years, any identifying data will be destroyed. Members of the research team would like to keep de-identified transcripts of the interviews for possible future research.

In accordance with relevant Australian and/or Victorian privacy and other relevant laws, you have the right to request access to the information about you that is collected and stored by the research team. You also have the right to request that any information with which you disagree be corrected. Please inform the research team member named at the end of this document if you would like to access your information.

Any information that you provide can be disclosed only if (1) it is to protect you or others from harm, (2) specifically allowed by law, (3) you provide the researchers with written permission. Any information obtained for the purpose of this research project that can identify you will be treated as confidential and securely stored.

12. Who has reviewed the research project?                   

All research in Australia involving humans is reviewed by an independent group of people called a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). This research project has been approved by the RMIT University HREC. This project will be carried out according to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007). This statement has been developed to protect the interests of people who agree to participate in human research studies.

13. Further information and who to contact

If you want any further information concerning this project, you can contact the researcher on ruth.desouza@rmit.edu.au:

   Research contact person

NameRuth De Souza
PositionChief investigator / Senior supervisor
Telephone(03) 9925 7386
Emailruth.desouza@rmit.edu.au

14. Complaints

Should you have any concerns or questions about this research project, which you do not wish to discuss with the researchers listed in this document, then you may contact:

Reviewing HREC nameRMIT University
HREC SecretaryPeter Burke
Telephone03 9925 2251
Emailhuman.ethics@rmit.edu.au
Mailing addressResearch Ethics Co-ordinator
Research Integrity Governance and Systems RMIT University
GPO Box 2476
MELBOURNE VIC 3001

RESEARCH TEAM

Dr Ruth De Souza (RMIT); Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth (RMIT); Dr Juan Sanin (RMIT) Associate Professor Bianca Brijnath (National Aging Research Institute); Dr Barbara Barbosa-Neves (Monash University); Dr Jenny Waycott (University of Melbourne); Ms Kate Renzenbrink (Bendigo Health); Ms Deidre Ellem (consumer); Ms Maria Dimopoulos

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