Organising Aboriginal Governance: Pathways to Self-determined Success in the Northern Territory, Australia

Tuesday, 16 June 2015
Dr Diane E. Smith

This paper presents the findings of a case-study research project commissioned by the Aboriginal Governance and Management Program (AGMP) in the Northern Territory. The AGMP was established by the Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (APONT) in response to issues discussed at the NT Aboriginal Governance Creek Summit held in Tennant Creek in 2012. The AGMP aims to provide Aboriginal communities and organisations across the NT with ongoing support to build resilient and effective forms of governance and management.

This paper presents evidence from several case studies of Aboriginal organisations where senior managers and directors reflect not only on the complexities, pitfalls and risks in starting and sustaining their organisations, but also on the ways they have successfully steered their organisations through some hazardous times.

The case studies suggest that, not withstanding the differences between the organisations (in their histories, scale, functions, structures and governance arrangements), and despite their lack of control over externalities, there are some common considerations that appear to be extremely important in building and sustaining effective Aboriginal organisational governance. The paper will present an overview of these for further discussion at the conference.