How to use this toolkit
The information in the toolkit is set out under nine topics, each of which includes several sub-topics, relevant resources and case studies. These are listed in the sidebar on the left.
Each topic focuses on a foundational aspect of governance, providing information on its key concepts, practice issues, diagnostic tools, case studies and ideas about what works for addressing challenging problems.
You can use the toolkit in many different ways, depending on your circumstances and needs. You can explore it individually or as a group, and at your own pace. You can answer quick questions, check out the governance innovations other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups have crafted, dig deeper into a specific issue, create your own tailor-made training sessions, do a quick health-check on an aspect of your governance, start writing a governance policy manual or work out a long-term governance development plan—it’s in your hands.
The toolkit doesn’t provide all the answers, so be prepared to seek additional advice and expertise when you need it. For example, your outcomes could be improved by hiring a trusted person to support you as you progressively work through a governance problem, help design practical solutions or develop a strategy. Or you might support one of your own community or staff members to take on a long-term role as a governance rebuilder or trainer within your nation, community or organisation.
Whichever path you choose, you are likely to find useful information and guidance in the toolkit, as well as links to other specialist websites and further readings.
There are different ways to navigate your way around the toolkit. You can read it just like a book—starting at the beginning and working through to the end to build up your understanding. Or you can jump back and forwards to whichever chapter topic interests you.
If you’ve already identified a governance issue or concept you want to find out more about (such as ‘rule’, ‘decision making’ or ‘culture’) there may be relevant information scattered across several topics.
To can track down all the information on a specific issue, simply enter a keyword in the ‘Search Toolkit’ box and click. You will get search results listing all the relevant text, audio, resources and case studies.
The header bar at the top of the homepage also shows you different ways into the toolkit. For example:
- ‘Toolkit topics’ will show you a handy list of all the sub-topics under each section. This is a bird’s-eye view that will help you find your way around the toolkit
- ‘Resources’ will show you all the practical resources in the toolkit, including tips, diagrams, templates, tools, videos, ideas that work, case studies and further reading.
- ‘Case studies’ will take you to real-life experience and examples of innovative ideas in each topic that have worked for others.
- ‘Useful links’ on the sidebar on the left of the homepage, will take you to a list of links to other specialist websites.
- ‘Glossary’ located in the sidebar on the left of the homepage, explains a lot of the buzzwords used about governance, and words that can mean different things to different people. Explanations in the glossary are listed alphabetically and written in plain English.
The toolkit places culture at the heart of understanding and building Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other modes of governance. So it’s important to remember that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples speak dozens of different languages and have their own culture-based governance values, concepts and beliefs. These often have radically different meanings and underlying principles to those associated with English or western governance.
While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have many cultural values and behaviours in common, their governance solutions will have to be tailored to meet different needs and governance challenges, diverse histories and changing future goals.
There are many ways you can use the toolkit to customise your own governance strategies, and create personalised pathways for developing governance solutions that work best for your nation, community or organisation.
You may want to develop and run your own governance education, training session or induction program about a particular issue. To do this, use the navigation tools described above (Read online) to pull together the key concepts and definitions, best-practice information, quotes, templates, diagrams, audio and other resources for that issue.
For examples of what you can do, have a look at the workbooks created for Reconciliation Austalia’s regional workshops on Sharing Governance Success, and the handbooks produced from the success stories of the Indigenous Governance Awards.
Every nation, community and organisation has its own ways of developing governance rules and policies, focusing on issues that matter most to them. But there are some common steps you can follow. In the toolkit you will find policy templates and examples of what other Indigenous peoples have done to develop their own governance policy manuals.
If you are looking for a long-term strategic approach to rebuilding your governance—whether it is for your nation, community or organisation—you can use the toolkit to create your own plan.
The template will enable you to work together with your nation, community or organisation to progressively produce your own governance development and action plan.
Before you start making changes, it’s a good idea to assess where you have come from (what has your governance history been like?) and where you’re at (is your governance working well now? What are your governance strengths and weaknesses?).
Evaluating your governance will help you to tell what’s working and what needs some more attention.
The toolkit has plenty of tips and templates about how to get started on mapping your governance history and assets, and evaluating and monitoring your governance arrangements. There are also numerous self-evaluation templates called check-ups. All these can be found under ‘Resources’ on the homepage header bar and within the relevant topic.
By regularly assessing your governance you will be able to identify challenges based on your own insights and priorities. You can then use that information to kick-start the conversation about these challenges within your nation, community or organisation, and take charge of implementing the solutions in a way that is under your control and has credibility.
Download and Print
The toolkit is a free, public-access document. You can download the text, resources, case studies, audio and visuals in the toolkit onto your computer, or print out sections as you need them.
In this way you can create your own mini-toolkit, and prepare PowerPoint presentations, overheads and hand-outs for your own governance planning and capacity building purposes.
We are keen to share the information, ideas and insights contained in this toolkit with as many people as possible, and to find new ways to return the research to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in ways they find useful.
So we ask that when you present information from the toolkit in other formats and venues, please reference our website address so others can access the toolkit as well. We’d also love to hear from you about where you are using the toolkit and how useful you are finding it.
Please also ensure that you cite the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owners of visual property—such as paintings and photos—who have kindly agreed to have their works included in the toolkit.