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- Understand Indigenous governance
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- Your people
- Systems and plans
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Monitor your wider environment
This topic discusses how to navigate your wider environment when building or improving your governance. We explain the different features that make up this environment. We discuss how to manage relationships with external stakeholders to strengthen your governance. This topic matches ‘Monitor your wider environment’ in our Governance Self-assessment Tool. We recommend that you do activities 6.1 and 6.2 in the tool after reading each subtopic.
Your wider environment
When assessing your governance, it’s important to think about your broader context. This is your ‘wider environment’.
Your wider environment is made up of all the things outside of your own organisation, community or nation. It includes the groups, people, institutions, and rules that impact your governance. These elements are not part of your group, but they affect how you operate and make decisions.1Janet Hunt and Diane Smith, Building Indigenous Community Governance in Australia. Preliminary research findings, CAEPR Working Paper No 31, (Canberra: The Australian National University, 2006).
This diagram shows the layers of the governance environment. Yellow layers make up your wider governance environment. Blue layers represent elements of your own governance – such as your people and internal culture.
Your wider environment may be made up of:
- local, state, territory and federal governments and representatives.
- government policy frameworks and funding mechanisms.
- fellow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and nations.
- non-government organisations and private sector companies.
- legal systems and legislation.
- the wider economy and market.
The layers of your wider environment may exist at a regional, state, territory and/or federal level.
The different elements of your wider environment have their own set of systems, rules, values and ways of doing things. These may be different to the way you do things.2Diane Smith, Organising Aboriginal Governance: Pathways to Self-Determined Success in the Northern Territory, The Aboriginal Governance and Management Program (AGMP), Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (APONT), 2005, 13. To govern effectively, your group needs to recognise and understand the elements that impact them.
“It is important that we acknowledge the challenging and complex operating environment which we are all continuing to live in, seeking justice and trying to raise families, and holding onto the lived practices of our beliefs. We as Indigenous people live out our lives in two worlds according to our custom and tradition and the modern reality.”
– June Oscar, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report, 2012.
Do activity 6.1 to monitor your wider environment. The goal is to identify and list the key elements that may impact your governance.
Your external stakeholders
External stakeholders are not part of your group. They are the individuals and groups you work with. They have a direct interest – or stake – in your governance. They may be interested because they are involved in making decisions, or they are impacted by them. 3“5 basic principles for effective stakeholder governance,” Australian Institute of Company Directors, March 2021,[link]
Manage your external stakeholders
You may have to work with external stakeholders whose interests and ways of working differ from your own. For example, industry partners, governments, councils, clients or investors.
This can result in overlapping or conflicting systems of representation, authority and power.4Janet Hunt and Diane Smith, Building Indigenous Community Governance in Australia. Preliminary research findings, CAEPR Working Paper No 31, (Canberra: The Australian National University, 2006), 74. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups need to be aware of the views and requirements of their external stakeholders. They need to balance them with the views and requirements of their own people.
Do activity 6.2 to identify the different external stakeholders in your governance environment. The goal is to better understand the relationships and interests that may impact your governance.
We’ve translated our extensive research on Indigenous governance into helpful resources and tools to help you strengthen your governance practices.
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