Project goals

In 2020 the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI) partnered with the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) on The Indigenous Governance of Development: Self-Determination and Success Project (IGD).


The AIGI values the partnership with CAEPR and the contribution of home-grown research to the strengthening of Indigenous self-governance and self-determined development.


The IGD project produced a suite of forthcoming discussion papers that are a valuable contribution to the growing body of research about Indigenous governance practices in Australia. They showcase the ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups use culture-centred practices to create adaptive self-determined and resilient adaptive governance structures.


The two-year applied research project involved a multi-disciplinary team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous researchers. The project was underpinned by strong partnerships with First Nations, and the team worked with local communities, native title holders, leaders and their representative organisations to ensure the research was done the right way.


The findings from the research will be used to provide practical tips to help strengthen the governance capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities, and nations, and to provide recommendations for policy makers.


The AIGI is excited to showcase a sample of the forthcoming discussion paper series, and we are looking forward to featuring the full version of the papers when they are released for publication. Until then, we hope you will enjoy reading the abstracts, a comparative analysis of the findings, and listening to interviews with some of the authors.

Research partners

The IGD Project is a collaborative research project between AIGI and the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) at the Australian National University (ANU).


The research project involved working in partnership with several First Nation partners across Australia, including the Boonthamurra Native Title Aboriginal Corporation and the Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.


The IGD Project papers capture change, resilience, and resurgence. They include examples of strong and self-determined Indigenous governance and development practices. They discuss situations where culture and identity are at the heart of Indigenous governance and development frameworks.


The challenge on the road ahead is not just to take control and put self-determination into practice, but to govern well and fairly on behalf of all the members of a First Nation. That way, Indigenous governance practices and development initiatives have a better chance of delivering sustained outcomes.


IGD Project papers:



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IGD Project Papers

Aboriginal community governance on the frontlines and faultlines in the Black Summer bushfires (2022)
– Bhiamie Williamson

Aboriginal people and the 2022 northern NSW floods (2022)
– Bhiamie Williamson

Governing country: A literature review of Indigenous governance principles in Indigenous ranger & protected areas programs (2022)
– Katie Bellchambers and Jason Field

Governing the Pandemic: Adaptive Self-Determination as an Indigenous Capability in Australian Organisations (2022)
– Lara Drieberg, Diane Smith and Dale Sutherland

Indigenous ‘Elder’ Organisations: Resilient adaptive governance and management as a capability for longevity and renewal (2022)
– Mia McCulloch, Lara Drieberg, Diane Smith and Francis Markham

Indigenous self-governance and ‘nation’ building: Considerations for a strategic self-analysis tool (2022)
– Toni Bauman and Diane Smith

Inter-Indigenous treaty making: ancient principles for contemporary Indigenous purposes (2022)
– Diane Smith and Toni Bauman

People, place and partnerships: A native title model for reframing the self-determined governance of development (2022)
– Diane Smith and Jason Field

That computer is clever like a dingo: principles and practice for Indigenous digital governance and digital sovereignty (2022)
– Diane Smith

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