Today, there are thousands of incorporated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations across the country.


Over the last 30 years, the duties and responsibilities of the governing bodies of these organisations have changed and grown more complex.


For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, decision are usually made through extensive collective discussion and consultation, and open to ongoing negotiation. This is called consensus decision making. Consensus decision making is possible within an organisational setting, with a skilled chair facilitating. A decision must be made collectively by a quorum of the governing body. Informed decisions are essential.

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.


5.0 Governing the organisation


5.1 Roles, responsibilities and rights of a governing body


5.2 Accountability: what is it, to whom and how?


5.3 Decision making by the governing body


5.4 Governing finances and resources


5.5 Communicating


5.6 Future planning


5.7 Building capacity and confidence for governing bodies


5.8 Case Studies

Other resources

Factsheet > Governing the organisation

Insights into practices of effective governing bodies.


View factsheet


View all resources


Accountability – the same thing as responsibility, that is, being responsible (legally, ethically, financially or culturally) and answerable for your actions and decisions to a person or group. To be able to explain and justify what happened. For example, the ability of a community leader or governing body to account for their own actions, or the actions of their organisation, to their members (internal accountability) and their wider constituents and stakeholders (external accountability).


Accountability requires rules, procedures, practical capacity, freedom of information, transparency, and building trust and credibility.


There are different types of accountability, including political and managerial, program or administrative, financial and resource, individual member and stakeholder, cultural and ethical.


Consensus – the process whereby all the members of a group come to agree to a given course of action, or at least, agree to disagree and are prepared to support a consensus decision.


Consensus is created through slow agreement and may change over time. It is a matter of moulding opinion (often done by influential people) and when achieved can create chains of cooperation within and across networks.


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

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