Who’s Who of Indigenous Governance – National


Reconciliation Australia’s Indigenous Governance Awards

Reconciliation Australia is an independent, national not-for-profit organisation promoting reconciliation by building relationships, respect and trust between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Reconciliation and BHPBiliton created the Indigenous Governance Awards to showcase how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are driving change on the ground. The Awards are held every two years and identify, celebrate and promote effective Indigenous governance and are about sharing success from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations around Australia.

Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory

Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT) is an alliance of Land Council’s, Legal Aid and Medical Services created to provide a more effective response to key issues affecting Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. APO NT has initiated the NT Aboriginal Governance and Management Program to build the strength and effectiveness of NT Aboriginal organisations and support good governance in Aboriginal communities.

Indigenous Business Australia

Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) is a progressive, commercially focused organisation that promotes economic independence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. IBA’s Business Development and Assistance Program assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to develop pathways to owning or growing viable businesses. The program includes introductory business workshops, tailored support services and advice relating to business matters such as; planning, financial skills development, tender writing, marketing and branding, selling and/or exiting a business. Details of the program are available on the IBA website.  

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples is a national voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. As a company the Congress is owned and controlled by its membership and is independent of Government. Congress acts as leaders and advocates for recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders status and rights as First Nations Peoples in Australia. Congress advocates on a variety of areas including health, justice, education, country, constitutional recognition, languages, racism, international rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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Research Institutes

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) is at the forefront of research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: as researchers, partners and drivers of research priorities and projects. AIATSIS prides itself on research that contributes to the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and has direct benefit to the communities’ worked with. The Centre for Governance and Public Policy is focused on research and practice in the development of social and corporate governance, and the delivery of public policy that impacts the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University

The Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) aims to undertake social science research on Indigenous policy and development that is excellent by the best international and disciplinary standards and that informs intellectual understanding, public debate, policy formation and community action. The research body focuses on Indigenous economic and social policy from a national perspective. CAEPR has a wide range of research and policy papers available online for public access, including those from their major governance initiative, the ICG Project (featured on the Nation Building page).

Jumbunna Research Unit, University of Technology Sydney

Jumbunna is a research unit within the University of Technology Sydney undertaking research relating to matters of importance to Indigenous people, their families and their communities. Jumbunna aims to produce the highest quality research on Indigenous legal and policy issues and to develop highly skilled Indigenous researchers. Current projects explore aspirations for Indigenous regional governance, corporate governance, the new arrangements for Indigenous policy making and program and service delivery in the post-ATSIC environment, Indigenous land issues and issues related to Indigenous people’s contact with the criminal justice and legal system. Jumbunna researchers are involved in the Indigenous Nation Building Project outlined below.

National Centre of Indigenous Studies

The National Centre for Indigenous Studies (NCIS) promotes and initiates cross-disciplinary research and teaching in a wide range of areas of relevance to Indigenous Australians. The Human Rights, Social Justice and Governance research strand analyses the intersection of Indigenous rights with the complexities of equality and equity for First Nation peoples. It also explores how processes of government and self-determined aspiration articulate with mechanisms of law, policy and civil society.

Melbourne School of Government, The University of Melbourne

The Melbourne School of Government (MSoG) is housed in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne. Research at the MSoG aims to improve the capacity of policy makers to make sound decisions, design and deliver effective policies and programs, and build robust institutions in Australia, the region and beyond. Governance and Performance is a key research theme of MSoG. This theme focuses on designing better governing institutions and improving policy-making and policy performance, by drawing on political, legal, and economic frameworks to improve institutional design, mechanism design, performance and regulation.

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Mediation and Facilitation

Indigenous Facilitation and Mediation Project

The Indigenous Facilitation and Mediation Project was conducted by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. The Project website provides research findings and a variety of resources and tools for decision-making and dispute management.

[former] National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council

The National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council (NADRAC) was an independent body that promoted the use of alternative dispute resolution. The NADRAC is now closed, however their mediation and dispute management publications and resources can still be accessed via the Attorney-General’s Department website.

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Native Title

The Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements Project

The Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements database (ATNS) is an online source of information relating to agreements between indigenous people and others in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. The project is conducted by a team of people from a number of different Universities and Institutes.

The Aurora Project

The Aurora Project offers a variety of services and resources for Native Title Representative Bodies and Native Title Service Providers (NTRBs) as well as programs for Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs). This includes training, professional development, internships and scholarships.

National Native Title Tribunal

The National Native Title Tribunal is an independent agency established under the Native Title Act 1993 to make decisions, conduct inquiries, reviews and mediations, and assist with native title applications, and Indigenous land use agreements. The Tribunal provides assistance to Prescribed Body Corporates including governance training, organisational capacity building and dispute resolution services.

Native Title Corporations

The Native Title Corporations website is a resource for Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs) and Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate (RNTBCs). The website provides information on legislation, policy and events and links to guides and training opportunities on how to manage and run a PBC.

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The Lowitja Institute

The Lowitja Institute is a national health research institute focused solely on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Lowitja recognises that better governance can improve care and support the work of health care staff. The Institute’s research on governance and health systems explores the impacts of; contracting and funding environments on health service providers, relationship between government and Aboriginal community controlled organisations and practical methods to address overburden. The website features the ‘Taking Care of Business’ web tool, which assists health care services in planning, decision-making and other corporate functions.

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Governance Information, Training and Support Agencies

Australian Institute of Company Directors

The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) provides training courses and resources for Boards, Directors and senior management executives. The AICD offers an Indigenous Governance Program. The Program recognises the unique challenges faced by the boards of medium and large Indigenous organisations and is designed to develop the skills of leaders and improve organisational effectiveness. Course application details are available on their website.

Our Community

Our Community provides advice and resources for not-for-profit organisations in Australia. The Institute of Community Directors Australia, an Our Community enterprise, is a governance network for members of Australian not-for-profit boards, committees and councils, and senior staff members. The Institute offers a Diploma of Business (Governance) – BSB 50710 for existing and prospective not-for-profit board/committee members, and the staff (CEOs and senior staff) who work with not-for-profit boards. Their website offers free governance tools and resources covering topics such as recruitment, Board responsibilities, policy-making, securing funding and reporting transparency.

Governance Institute of Australia 

The Governance Institute of Australia promotes the effective governance and administration of organisations in the private and public sectors. The Institute’s website has a range of accessible guides, resources and research on corporate governance procedures and practices and they offer a variety of skills-based short courses and diplomas in Governance Practice, Risk Management and Governance for Not-for-Profits.

Institute for Aboriginal Development (Aboriginal Corporation)

The Institute for Aboriginal Development Incorporated (IAD) was established by the Uniting Church in 1969 to assist community development for Aboriginal people and provide cross-cultural education between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal society. It is an independent Aboriginal community-controlled language resource centre and adult education centre serving the Aboriginal community of Central Australia. The IAD offers a variety of Certificate level courses relating to business, administration and vocational skills. Information regarding the courses is available through the IAD website.

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Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre 

The Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre was founded by Indigenous leaders in recognition of the importance of leadership in driving sustainable change in Indigenous communities. The Centre is a national provider of accredited Indigenous leadership education programs.

Social Leadership Australia

Social Leadership Australia (SLA) works with a diversity of business; government and not-for-profit organisations to design and deliver customised leadership development programs. SLA have developed a number of initiatives to build adaptive change and leadership capability with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The 2014 ‘Leading Together’ program sought to develop the ability of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders to work together for better outcomes for their organisations and broader communities by developing understanding and connection across cultures and learning and growing together. Application and program details are located on their website.

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Government and Regulatory Bodies 

Australian Securities and Investments Commission

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is an independent Commonwealth Government body charged with regulating Australia’s corporate, markets and financial services. ASIC regulate Australian companies, financial markets, financial services organisations and professionals who deal and advise in investments, superannuation, insurance, deposit taking and credit to ensure that Australia’s financial markets are fair and transparent, supported by confident and informed investors and consumers. The ASIC website provides a variety of materials on corporate governance requirements including information sheets, checklists and guides.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission regulates and facilitates the functioning of charitable organisations. Their website has a selection of tools, tips and resources on how to effectively govern and manage charities. This includes a guide to Board Member responsibilities, compliance tests and fraud protection.

Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations

The Registrar is responsible for administering the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act). The Office of the Registrar website provides information on Native Title legislation and explains the rules and regulations about starting a corporation. They also have tools and templates for running an organisation and offer free training opportunities in corporate governance knowledge, skills, efficiency and accountability for directors, future directors, members and key staff of Indigenous corporations registered under the CATSI Act.

Torres Strait Regional Authority

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) aims to strengthen the economic, social and cultural development of the Torres Strait to improve the lifestyle and wellbeing of Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people living in the region. The TSRA Governance and Leadership Program is designed to help maintain and improve the leadership and governance skills of current and future leaders. Information on the different Governance and Leadership Program initiatives is available on the TSRA website.

Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) keeps social justice issues before the Australian Government and promotes community understanding and respect for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The AHRC 2012 Social Justice report promotes governance as a
tool for achieving the goals of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In the report, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Social Justice Commissioner Mr Mick Gooda identifies three factors for effective governance in Indigenous
communities: a foundation of community governance and self-determination; good
organisational governance; and an enabling role, played by government and other external
parties. The Full report is located on the AHRC website.

Indigenous Affairs, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

The Indigenous Affairs Group operates within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Their website provides information on the Indigenous Advancement Strategy which was implemented on July 1 2014. The Strategy reflects the Governments key areas of focus for Indigenous affairs. Information on the IAS approach to governance and leadership is outlined under the Culture and Capability Programme page. Information on the IAS incorporation requirements is available under the Incorporation Requirements page.

The Indigenous.gov.au website provides updates on information, news, stories and events of interest to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians or people working in Indigenous affairs.

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