'Strengthening Indigenous Community Governance: a step towards advancing Reconciliation in Australia', a paper presented at Peace, Justice and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific Region Conference, April 1-3 2005, Queensland University.
This paper presents research which is currently underway into the state of Indigenous community governance in Australia. The Indigenous Community Governance Project starts from the hypothesis that good governance of Indigenous communities is essential for effective self-determination and is a key ingredient to successful socio-economic development. It is also critically important to Indigenous people engaging successfully with governments at various levels. Currently there are many changes going on in the governance environment, but little is understood about what makes for culturally legitimate and effective indigenous governance and how to attain it. The Project, supported by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at ANU and Reconciliation Australia, has put together a team of researchers who are working with communities, their organisations and leaders, in order to understand how Indigenous governance operates at the local and regional levels. Preliminary work has highlighted a number of issues which will be the subject of more systematic research in coming months and years. Despite important local variations, it is apparent that all the participating community organisations are facing common systemic issues which are outlined.