Following a presentation on the Bardi Jawi Governance Project at the 2013 National Native Title Conference, Traditional Owners from north-west Victoria approached NTSV requesting support for a study tour to the West Kimberley. The aim was to visit Aboriginal corporations managing native title rights and interests to consider different corporate structures and to hear from native title holders themselves about how those corporations are meeting their aspirations. As a result a delegation from north-west Victoria travelled to Broome in November 2013 and spent a week meeting with representatives from Traditional Owner communities and organisations in the West Kimberley.
This paper will outline the purpose and details of the study tour, the key governance issues that were identified and discuss the lessons learned. These include the role of the PBC, the importance of clear and frequent communication, the need to develop trust between the corporate structure and the wider group, the differences between representative and skills based boards, the role and importance of Elders in governance structures, as a focus on healing and conflict management and the importance of transparent and inclusive decision making. The knowledge and understanding of good governance gained from the study tour has helped inform the development of a corporation to support Traditional Owners in Victoria’s north‑west.