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International Indigenous Governance Conference voted one of the best ever!

Tue 9 Feb 2021

The inaugural International Indigenous Governance Conference (IIGC) has been herald a massive success, with participants voting it one of the best conferences they have ever attended.

AIGI pivoted the event to a virtual format, after original plans to host a physical conference were interrupted by COVID-19.

The inaugural conference held in December 2020 attracted global attention, with a powerhouse line-up of 30 international and Australian speakers, scheduled over two days.

Hosted by AIGI, in partnership with Reconciliation Australia and BHP Foundation, feedback from IIGC participants arrived thick and fast.

“Incredible panels and discussions. So professionally done and the virtual platform is 100%. Thank you. The most informative and enjoyable conferences I have attended for years,” one participant wrote.

Other participants spoke of the inspiration provided by speakers who, had for many years, been at the frontline in pursuit of Indigenous nation building and progressing First Nation self-determination.

“It is so valuable to have these kernels of truth and authenticity carved from the real battlefields – and which have helped drag the country along to the necessary change,” wrote another participant. 

The IIGC was also treated to a first-hand look at the Australian Reconciliation Barometer, through a speech delivered by Reconciliation Australia’s CEO Karen Mundine.

AIGI CEO Michelle Deshong, in her closing address, also stressed the value of the Barometer to the Australian narrative, and the importance of highlighting Indigenous successes to further increase the positive sentiment towards First Nations Peoples.

“There is still much to be done, and I think that the representation of Indigenous people in the media, and the institutionalised racism, will remain a very big challenge for us, for now and into the future,” she said.

“But hopefully, things like this, events that share the positive stories and the successes of Indigenous people, become absolutely crucial to changing that image and that perspective of the contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do make, and will make into the future.”

The IIGC also officially launched the Indigenous Governance Awards 2021, another partnership project delivered by Reconciliation Australia and AIGI, to highlight success stories.

The theme of the 2020 conference was “Self-Determination through Self-Governance” with discussions on areas of Indigenous Governance including treaties, cultural legitimacy, development and innovation, Indigenous women in governance, nation building and succession planning.

IIGC participants reported a highlight was the “Our Next 20 Years; Innovation and New Knowledge in Governance” panel, which featured First Nations speakers at the forefront of technology.

The IIGC learnt that First Nations Peoples were amongst the most eager to adopt new technologies, and also adapt existing technologies to assist with the collection of data, improve connectivity and governance within urban, regional, and remote communities, introduce Indigenous gaming and more.

After panellist Grant Cameron, Leadership Programs Manager at the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation delivered inspiring tech insights, one participant responded,  “…the yarn about drones was proper deadly because this would give First Nations people opportunity to map out their traditional country, especially for native title landholders. I think “if we can create our own data, we can create our own Governance”.”

After the success of the 2020 event, participants have eagerly called for the next IIGC – as soon as possible!

“The event planning and speakers were great. The best thing…is to have an event like this as often as is possibly achievable. I believe that the more attention there is around Indigenous Self Determination, is to keep the momentum, and pressuring governments and their institutions to hear, and be aware of the discourse. The more it happens (in particular internationally), the more governments will start paying attention,” was a participant sentiment echoed by many who attended the conference.