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
2.3 Case Studies
Culture and governance
Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC) is the Kimberley Region’s Peak Indigenous Law and Culture Centre. KALACC’s mission is the maintenance and promotion of the traditional cultures of the 30 language groups of the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
KALACC has a Board of Directors consisting of 12 Directors who are elected to hold office for a term of two years. In addition to the 12 elected Directors, there are six people who hold the title of Special Adviser. These people are honorary life members of the organisation and are not elected to the board but are senior cultural leaders of the Kimberley.
KALACC has found that having Special Advisors allows the Board to maintain a sense of stability and continuity despite having biannual elections. Having Special Advisers as life members means they are able to pass on their corporate and governance knowledge in the event of an entirely new Board of Directors being elected as well as ensuring that the accepted standards of cultural governance are observed and maintained within the organisation.
“KALACC is not confused about its identity, purpose or function. We are somewhat unique in the cultural and organisational landscape of Australia. Since 1985 KALACC has existed for the express purpose of maintaining and promoting the cultures of the 30 language groups of the Kimberley region of Western Australia.”
Given its function and purpose, the membership of KALACC has naturally been the people who speak the languages and practice the cultures that KALACC aims to promote.
KALACC represents themselves through a simple diagram of concentric circles.
“At the very core are the senior cultural bosses, the law men and women of the Kimberley. These people may not be KALACC Directors but they are KALACC members and they are our clientele. The next circle out is the middle aged to elder group who are themselves cultural leaders and who liaise closely with the inner circle of cultural bosses. The next circle out are the staff and others associated with the organisation who are tasked with the responsibility of enacting the wishes of the Directors. Next circle out is the broader membership of the Kimberley. And the final circle is the outside world”.
There are many reasons why KALACC believes its governance model works so well, but at its core is the fact that they have a very clear sense of who they are and what they do.
“KALACC is the vehicle for the elders and cultural bosses of the Kimberley region to express their views on a range of topics and to advocate for the importance of culture”.
NPY Women’s Council (NPYWC) was set up in 1980 and incorporated in 1994. The organisation was founded in response to the concerns of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women throughout the APY lands. The women were concerned about the rise of petrol sniffing in their communities as well as the ineffectual service delivery to their elders and those with disabilities.
“…the women were all thinking the same way. We wanted our own meetings. We all had something to say about caring for our children, our families, about our aspirations to have good lives. We wanted to talk about our issues to the government. We wanted to talk together to give a strong message. That’s why we formed the Women’s Council”
Since it started 32 years ago, NPYWC has never lost sight of its aspirations. It remains an active and hands-on advocacy and service delivery organisation committed to culture. One of the aspirations of NPYWC is to protect, maintain and revitalise culture. It does this by encouraging the practice of culture, observing NPY women’s law as well as promoting the interests and rights of NPY women. It is clear that Anangu culture flows through the organisation from the boardroom to service delivery on the ground.
Here are some of the ways NPYWC have incorporated their local culture into the way the organisation is run.
Each year NPYWC holds a bush meeting where the directors and staff go out on country and meet with the organisation’s members. Everyone is invited to come along to these meetings not just the local community where the bush meeting is being held.
These meetings are an opportunity for NPYWC staff to spend time with the organisation’s members out on country and in a bush camp. Having bush meetings allows for knowledge sharing between communities and the NPYWC as well as ensuring that staff and directors are getting out from behind their desks and into the communities to meet people. Bush meetings are not only a culturally appropriate way to get information out to members, but they have proven to be a great forum for building relationships between community and staff.
NPYWC has an approach known locally as the ‘malparara way’. Malparara means a person who is together with a friend or companion. In the context of service delivery this usually means two staff who are working together on a program, one of whom is an Anangu woman or man and the other who is the partner staff member, employed for his/her specific professional skills.
The primary aim of the malparara way of working is to ensure the concerns and problems of the local people are listened to and properly addressed in a culturally appropriate way. Malparara way recognises and values the knowledge, skills and resources of the local people while assisting them in gaining access to services which are delivered in a culturally appropriate and effective way.
“Women’s Council project work is hard, really complicated. It can be difficult to understand, but working with a malpa (friend) makes it much easier, and the staff are much happier when they are working together. It makes difficult things much easier to understand when you are working together.”
(Tjikalyi Colin, Former Anangu staff member)
These relationships are pivotal in ensuring NPYWC are effective in their response to sensitive community issues such as domestic violence. It is these relationships which form the basis of our service delivery and it is the thing that separates us from other service delivery bodies in the NPY region.
Malaparara way is very effective in ensuring quality service delivery in cross-border regions, especially given the type of work in which NPYWC is engaged. The idea of malaparara way came from Anangu women as a service delivery model that would effectively and efficiently meet the needs of the local people as well as breaking down language barriers. Malaparara way works well because it means that service delivery can be adapted to suit the local communities’ culture, norms and values. The growth of the organisation in recent years has meant that there will be staff members who won’t have a direct opportunity to experience this model of working malparara, however senior women including directors are available to provide advice and direction to staff working with members and their families.
Decision making and service development
Many years ago the members of NPYWC developed their own approach to developing services for their communities. The process is an example of how Indigenous culture can go hand in hand with good corporate governance. NPYWC’s service development approach includes:
Kulikatinyi (considering something over a long period of time)
Nyakuakatinyi (looking for something as one goes along)
Palyaalkatinyi(making something as one goes along)
This process ensures services that are developed and delivered by the Women’s Council are continually reviewed and improved. This approach to service development means that NPYWC is effectively delivering services in a manner that best meets the needs of the individual and also the different communities.
Kungka – NPY Women’s Council Annual Career Conference
Kungka is annual career conference held by the NPYWC for young women in the community between the ages of 12-15. The career conference aims to provide young Aboriginal women with information and advice on education and employment pathways. However another feature of the conference is the involvement of older successful Indigenous women, who come along to share their stories. Local women who have been successful in their education and employment life are invited to come along and speak to participants in their own language. The conference provides young women positive examples of Aboriginal women who are strong in their culture and successful in their employment and education.
All new staff members are provided with an orientation of the organisation and the region in which they are based. This includes detailed cultural advice on cultural differences and Anangu culture; such as saying no, avoidance relationships, sorry business, men’s business, women’s business and parenting ways.
Aligning practice with cultural perspectives and values
Yappera is a multi-functional Aboriginal Children’s Service catering to children and families. It’s vision is for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to have the right and opportunity to reach their potential through access and participation in the highest quality care and education programs within a cultural setting which strengthens their identity, cultural resilience, health and wellbeing.
Yappera’s programs, practices and protocols align with local cultural perspectives and values. Cultural values are reflected within Yappera’s philosophy, vision, purpose, values and philosophy of community control.
The current members elected on the Yappera Children’s Service Board of Management are all Aboriginal including the Chief Executive Officer who is appointed by the board of management. Yappera employs a high percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to work within the programs, ensuring the cultural content remains consistent. This ensures that all the operations, protocols, practices and decision making links back to culture, child first perspectives and family values.
Culture is embedded within the Service through its design, Aboriginal governance structure, membership base and links with the communities around Victoria. Aboriginal culture is also reflected through the delivery of education programs, practices and resources used within the Service. An information board has also been developed in the foyer area that highlights the history of Yappera and reflects the theoretical beliefs and perspectives of the founding members, management and staff. This also demonstrates how these beliefs link to Aboriginal culture and the importance of educating through culture for children and families.
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