Winners and finalists of the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards talk about the importance of developing the next generation of leaders and how succession planning takes place in their organisation...
- 01 Understanding governance
- 02 Culture and governance
- 03 Getting Started
- 04 Leadership
05 Governing the organisation
- 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
- 06 Rules and policies
- 07 Management and staff
08 Disputes and complaints
- 8.0 Disputes and complaints
- 8.1 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous approaches
- 8.2 Core principles and skills for dispute and complaint resolution
- 8.3 Disputes and complaints about governance
- 8.4 Your members: Dealing with disputes and complaints
- 8.5 Organisations: dealing with internal disputes and complaints
- 8.6 Practical guidelines and approaches
- 8.7 Case Studies
- 09 Governance for nation rebuilding
- Governance Stories
- Useful links
- Preview new Toolkit
1.4 Case Studies
Participants at Reconciliation Australia’s Sharing Success-Indigenous governance workshop in Port Hedland (WA, 26–27 June 2007) likened their community governance to their faithful old community truck. It’s not an unrealistic fantasy. Its been designed to do the job they need it to do in the local conditions.
Here’s how they saw it:
- It’s a manual Holden ute—nothing flash—but it can be push-started if it breaks down. It’s got a jerry-can in case it runs out of fuel and there’s a good set of spanners, wrenches and a spare tire if it breakdowns on a trip. It’s registered and has all its papers, and you need a license to drive it.
- It’s got large bench seats—not bucket seats for individual people who think they can just drive by themselves—everybody can fit in. But not backseat drivers because there can be only one driver in the driving seat!
- It’s got clean transparent windows to let everyone see the road and scenery properly and to let other cars see them, and the headlights are the vision lighting up the path.
- It gets routine maintenance to keep the engine and other parts in good nick, and occasionally has to go in for a big service.
- This car is economical—it has to be what with the price that you pay for petrol these days. It’s a reliable old model with new parts and has solid power steering.
- Yes it’s got dents—it’s been through some tough country but it can still move safely. It goes across country and has good traction on both the road and gravel. It’s a friendly vehicle, all-weather, comes with a bit of rust, but it carries any load. And it’s even got karaoke so everyone can have a bit of fun along the way!
- Everyone in the family has an equal share in the ute. They all chuck in for petrol and repairs because they all get some use out of it—just like we all have shares in our governance. And it’s got a towbar, so if anyone wants to attach to our governance truck they can be pulled along—or if the governance truck goes off the road and turns over, it can be towed back onto firm ground!
The Yiriman Project was conceived and developed by the elders of four Kimberly language groups; Nyikina, Mangala, Karajarri and Walmajarri. The elders were concerned about their young people and issues of self-harm and substance abuse and saw the need for a place where youth could separate themselves from negative influences, and reconnect with their culture in a remote and culturally significant place.
Yiriman has two aspects to its governance and management processes. The management processes are undertaken by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC). KALACC auspices the Yiriman project and attend to issues of financial management, staff employment, reporting and acquittals however Yiriman retains its own project governance structure which is independent from that of KALACC.
Yiriman’s governance works because there is and always has been a very clear sense of who established the project, why they established the project and what they want the project to achieve.
Yiriman is a cultural program which operates on a cultural governance model. Indeed, one of the main purposes of the overall governance structure is to coordinate the allocation of resources to each of the language groups and to coordinate the timing and annual calendar for the project i.e. which groups will undertake which activities, where and when.
Throughout these processes, cultural bosses make the decisions about the projects, unlike a Board of Directors who requires the approval of members; their decisions are based purely on community and cultural knowledge and discussions between elders and cultural bosses. It also means that the elders and cultural bosses can focus on helping their young people, without worrying about the logistics of the project.
Culturally appropriate governance
The ‘Mt Theo Program’ was established as a grass roots community outstation rehabilitation program in 1993. In early 2000, the ‘Mt Theo / Yuendumu Substance Misuse Aboriginal Corporation’ was incorporated. In late 2008, the incorporated name was officially changed with ORIC to ‘Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation’ (WYDAC) to reflect their current role in delivering youth services within the wider Warlpiri region.
Some of WYDAC’S achievements over the past 5 years include:
- The elimination of petrol sniffing in the community
- Increased employment opportunities leading to more Warlpiri with regular salaries – 52% of WYDAC employees are Indigenous.
- The achievement of certification against the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management Systems standard in 2010.
- The Order of Australia Medal awarded to Peggy Brown and Johnny Miller, program founders, and Andrew Stojanovski, first program manager.
- New facilities in Yuendumu, including the Youth Centre in 2010, the Community Pool in 2009 and new program office in 2008.
- Expanding programs into the Willowra, Nyirrpi and Lajamanu communities, including major infrastructure.
Keeping the lines of communication open- “talk story”
At WYDAC the lines of communication are always open. Everyone in the organisation knows that the key to effective governance lies in the close working relationships between the people on the ground delivering services and the members of the Board.
One of the ways WYDAC ensures that close working relationships are established is by encouraging the Chairpersons and other Directors to come into the organisation regularly to ‘talk story’. Some of the things that might be discussed are the progress, strengths or weaknesses of different programs, issues in the community, and ideas about the future direction of WYDAC.
This process means that the Board are closely connected and involved in the daily workings of the organisation in an informal capacity. It also means that the Board are not making decisions about services and programs from the boardroom table without first getting into the organisation and having a yarn with the people who are delivering the services or managing the programs on a daily basis.
Developing culturally appropriate governance
WYDAC has always been an organisation that does things its own way; rather than relying on a traditional board structure which comprises of only having one chairperson, WYDAC has decided to have two Chairs.
“WYDAC has two Chairs – one male and one female. This is an appropriate board structure in the Warlpiri cultural context. Each chairperson will take it in turns or decide between themselves as to who shall chair Board meetings. If neither person is available nor wishes to chair the meeting; the deputy chair shall chair the meeting. If the deputy chair does not wish to chair the meeting the members can select a chair for that particular meeting. The CEO co-chairs the meetings”
The WYDAC Executive Board is made up of members who are fluent in both Warlpiri and English, and often have strong English literacy skills. As such, they act as interpreters for other members who may have less understanding of written English, governance, or policy and procedures.
Both the Warlpiri and non-Warlpiri staff of WYDAC work closely with each other and the Board in a bilingual and cross-cultural environment; WYDAC is about Warlpiri and non-Warlpiri working together in all aspects of the consultation, development and delivery of appropriate programs for young people and the wider community.
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