9.0 Governance for nation rebuilding and development
Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face many challenges, not the least of which is exercising self-determination to:
- govern themselves in ways that are meaningful
- initiate economic development that is aligned to cultural and collective priorities
- make laws and decisions that solve difficult social problems, and balance cultural integrity with change
- shape relations with encompassing societies in ways of their own choosing.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights to self-determination of this kind has been variously ignored, undermined, acknowledged or modestly supported over the years.
But Indigenous peoples’ desire to govern themselves within their own cultural units—and to build their capacity to do that well—remains a persistent concern across the country.
The concept of ‘nation building’ or ‘rebuilding’ explores the often complex challenges involved, and the ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups are currently working to overcome these challenges by reinvigorating their collective identities and governance arrangements.
While stories of disaster, deficit and despair still dominate far too many discussions of governance and community life, new stories of resourcefulness, creativity and success—as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples themselves—are surfacing.
In this topic you will find information, ideas and examples that focus on implementing governance for nation rebuilding and development; along with several tools to kick-start your conversations and initial practical steps.
“Strong tree, strong people, strong culture.
The sun, the leaves, the branches, the flowers, the seeds, the water and the bark are all parts of governance.
The trunk of the big tall tree is an elder passing on knowledge and wisdom. The bark covers the trunk and holds it together.
The branches are networks. The yellow leaves are the old people who need to be looked after.
The seedlings in the waterhole are the young people listening to and learning from the elders, who are watching and supporting them.
The sun is looking to see who’s going to be a strong leader in both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. This system provides strong governance—everything’s inter-connected, allowing the tree to provide good fruit.”
Illustration and story by participants at the “Sharing Governance Success Workshops” of the vision for their strong future governance.