Indigenous Governance Building: mapping current and future research and practical resource needs

Project status: 

Project description

Indigenous governance research and practical resource initiatives are dispersed across Australia and often carried out in isolation. Valuable research evidence remains in-house or is to be found in academic books and journals with restricted circulation. The result is that there may be little knowledge exchange beyond the immediate research partners, or limited translation of research into practical tools that can be usefully applied on the ground.

AIATSIS and the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI) have collaboratively developed a snapshot of Australian research and resource initiatives to address the following questions:

  • How can an Indigenous governance research agenda yield practical benefits, resources and insights?
  • How can research identify and share what is innovative and promising in Indigenous Australian governance?

Impact statement

Little attention has been paid to mapping existing governance work against Indigenous needs. This scoping pilot will provide a picture of current and future governance research and capacity-building needs. It will prepare information in a form that is useful and accessible to policymakers, researchers, Indigenous governance builders and service providers. It will also assist in rationalising the range of existing projects and programs, alleviating the impact on Indigenous communities, who are often inundated by conflicting, ineffective, time wasting and, at times, harmful initiatives.


On 29–30 July 2014 AIATSIS and AIGI hosted a forum to map current and future research and practical resource needs. (Visit the event page, ‘Indigenous Governance Development: a forum to map current and future research and resource needs’, to see a video and photos from the forum, or access forum presentations below).

In preparation for the forum a background paper was prepared by Dr Diane Smith and Toni Bauman, with assistance from Robynne Quiggin. It provided some context for participants at the Forum in thinking about Indigenous governance research, development and related practical resources. It drew on a wide range of relevant research and reports by a number of authors and organisations so as to cover key themes, perspectives and issues for discussion.

AIATSIS and AIGI also conducted a pre-forum survey, entitled ‘A short survey: mapping Indigenous governance research and resources’, which focused on the identification of current activities, gaps and future priorities in governance research and the practical resources derived from it. A summary of the survey results, which included a preliminary list of current initiatives was made available to participants at various Forum sessions (see Publications and resources below).

The report of the survey and forum, Building Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governance is a synthesis of the many ideas, comments, issues and possibilities that were identified.

An Indigenous governance bibliography  - which builds on previous bibliographies compiled by other research teams (see below)  - has also been compiled by AIATSIS. 

See also a bibliography on free, prior and informed consent: 



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Last reviewed: 18 Apr 2016