Indigenous Community Governance
A collaborative action research project by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research and Reconciliation Australia
The Indigenous Community Governance Project (ICGP) ran from 2005 to June 2008. It was supported under the Australian Research Council's Linkage funding scheme (Project No. 0348744), and also funded by the Northern Territory and West Australian governments, and the Australian Government through the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (formerly the Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs), each of whom also collaborated with the research.
The Project was a partnership between the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) and Reconciliation Australia, to undertake research on Indigenous community governance with participating Indigenous communities, regional Indigenous organisations, and leaders across Australia.
Over the course of its research, the Project explored:
- The state of community governance on the ground, including its cultural, social, economic, legal, policy, service delivery, and historical contexts
- The different models of governance that have been established and are emerging in communities, and the governance processes, institutions, structures, powers and capacities involved
- The factors influencing culturally legitimate governance arrangements in Indigenous communities
- The shortfalls in community governance skills and capacities, as well as the governance strengths, and
- The wider 'governance environments' and policy networks within which community governance operates, including the role and impacts of State, Territory and Federal Government policy and service delivery on the effectiveness of community governance.
Case study research was undertaken at some 13 varied sites across Australia, in collaboration with participating communities and organisations. The Project aimed to make research 'count' by using a participatory community-based approach, and by directly informing the work of Indigenous organisations, leaders and government agencies in their practical efforts to build better governance.
The Project took guidance from an Advisory Committee with significant Indigenous membership, and comprising experts from across Australia as well as international researchers from the United States and Canada.
For a detailed discussion of the ICGP methodology please see CAEPR Working Paper No. 29:
'Researching Australian Indigenous governance: A methodological and conceptual framework', by Diane Smith.