This is a preliminary research report from the first year of fieldwork conducted by the Indigenous Community Governance Project (ICGP). The Project is exploring the nature of Indigenous community governance in diverse contexts and locations across Australia through a series of diverse case studies—to understand what works, what doesn’t work, and why. A comparative analysis of the Project’s case studies is revealing that governance and decision-making in Indigenous community governance is shaped by multiple historical, cultural and political relationships.
Australian Indigenous land and sea managers have repeatedly called for an independent national Indigenous land and sea managers network. Such a network would link top down and bottom up information exchanges, promoting shared understandings of issues and opportunities. The network would provide government with a vehicle to both inform and learn from local Indigenous groups, including community rangers, on local, national and international matters of environmental significance.
Indigenous land and sea management in Australia is an example of how partnerships between Traditional Owners, governments, industry and NGOs can produce positive outcomes for both people and Country. There are now over 700 Indigenous people employed as Indigenous rangers across Australia. These jobs are producing positive environmental, social, cultural and economic outcomes. However, it is acknowledged that for continued growth increased effort is required in two primary areas:
Under the Native Title Act 1993, the Social Justice Commissioner is required to prepare a Native Title Report each year for federal Parliament. Through these reports the Commissioner gives a human rights perspective on native title issues and advocates for practical co-existence between Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups in using land.