Culture lies at the heart of governance. It informs a group’s rules and values about what is the ‘right way’ of exercising power and governing – and what is the ‘wrong way’.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people put their culture at the heart of their governance.


Despite the impacts of colonial settlement and diversity of communities across Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to share many common cultural values and traditions to govern themselves. These include:


  • family connections and support
  • kin relationships, mutual responsibility and sharing of resources
  • respecting law and the authority of elders
  • attachment to ‘country’ and the role of traditional owners in making decisions about their lands.

Indigenous Governance Toolkit

Our Toolkit is a free online resource developed to support Indigenous communities and organisations to strengthen their governance practices. It offers a comprehensive collection of practical information, tools, templates, case studies and videos.


2.0 Culture and governance


2.1 Indigenous governance and culture


2.2 Two-way Governance


2.3 Case Studies

Other resources

Factsheet > Culture and governance

Building and maintaining cultural legitimacy.


View factsheet


View all resources


Culture – the distinctive ideas, customs, social behaviour, meanings, laws and values that are shared by a particular group of people, and which together form the foundation for the way they live. A shared culture enables people to communicate with each other, behave in an accepted way and do things together towards common ends.


A particular culture is acquired and transmitted by people over generations, through written means, oral traditions, participating in group activities and the socialisation of young children.


Governance culture – the internal system of formal and informal traditions, relationships, and culturally-shared value and processes that create collective behavioural accountability, and that influence staff, management and leaders to conform to an organisation’s rules, vision and goals.


See our Glossary for more definitions of governance-related terminology.

Stay connected

Subscribe to AIGI news and updates.