Good Indigenous governance and effective native title management: travelling companions on the road to Self Determination

Thursday, 18 June 2015
Kevin Smith

For many traditional owners the arduous pursuit of securing native title recognition has focused predominantly on the determination with a common refrain at the court ceremonial hearing being “what do we do now?” This refrain echoes as a capacity issue that has been heard at a macro level in the Deloitte Review into Native Title Organisations, the Australian Treasury ‘Taxation of Native Title and Traditional Owner Benefits and Governance Report’ and the ALRC’s Review of the Native Title Act. As native title determinations increase and economic development becomes more pressing, this capacity issue will gain even greater prominence. PBC governance is thus clearly a national priority, as failed governance adversely impacts upon ‘fragile’ native title rights and interests; and conversely, good governance can assist in securing, managing and leveraging native title rights and interests for the benefit of current and future generations of traditional owners and their aspirations of Self Determination. Regrettably, however, PBCs compete for governance resources within a system that is straining under the diverse and complex workload associated with claims resolution.

This presentation explores the need for:

  • A paradigm shift where sound Indigenous governance principles and design are embedded at key points along the native title continuum – from claim formulation, to determination and beyond – and not as an after- thought whilst the ‘ink is drying’ on the court order
  • Appreciating that PBC governance involves a complex interrelationship between three dimensions – the individual, the PBC and the community – and the need to build capacity through integrated strategies cognisant of those dimensions;
  • Utilising NTRB/NTSP and broader support to build PBC capability in terms of compliance and performance.