A reimagined future: Indigenous nations within the nation state

Tuesday, 16 June 2015
Damein Bell
Dr Miriam Jorgensen
Dr Alison Vivian

Research evidence from Australia, the US and Canada finds that that the ability for Indigenous nations to achieve their self-defined community goals is linked to effective and culturally legitimate governance. Numerous reports and studies – including those by the Australian Government– suggest that previous government policies have not succeeded, and that a new approach is needed. We think that Indigenous nation (re)building has significant potential be that new approach.

According to the research, the challenge for Indigenous communities is to strengthen their capacity to rebuild their societies through effective self-governance. Aboriginal nations like the Ngarrindjeri Nation and the Gunditjmara People are creating capable governing institutions of their own design, through which they intend to identify their own governance priorities and bring them into effect. Indigenous nation governing systems also are being used to shape the nature of dealings with non-Indigenous governments. 

A team composed of representatives from three Aboriginal nations (the Gunditjmara, Ngarrindjeri and Wiradjuri in Victoria, South Australia and NSW) and academics from Australia and the US is engaged in research to identify strategic and institutional innovations in Indigenous governance and nation-building. This team is investigating processes for sharing these approaches among Australian Indigenous communities, and techniques for commencing the process of Indigenous nation building in the absence of formal government recognition of Indigenous sovereignty.