About the Awards

‘Studies around the world and in Australia show that good governance is the key to building and sustaining healthy, prosperous communities, and we want to recognise, applaud and share those achievements.’

Professor Mick Dodson, Chair, Indigenous Governance Awards

The Indigenous Governance Awards were created by Reconciliation Australia in partnership with BHP Billiton to identify, celebrate and promote effective Indigenous governance. Effective Indigenous governance is about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people making and implementing decisions about their communities, lives and futures.

The national awards highlight success in Indigenous Australia—strong leadership, good management, effective partnerships and brave, creative thinking. The Awards have been running since 2005 and are now run every two years.

There are two award categories:

Category A. Outstanding examples of Indigenous governance in Indigenous incorporated organisations

Category B. Outstanding examples of Indigenous governance in non-incorporated initiatives or projects


There is $60,000 in prize money up for grabs as part of the Indigenous Governance Awards. The winners in each category will receive $20,000 to assist their organisation, project or initiative and the highly commended winners in each category will each be awarded $10,000.

Additionally, all finalists receive an Awards package comprising:

  • A 12 month partnership with a high profile corporate partner, who will provide mentoring and assistance in an area identified by the finalist.
  • An award to commemorate their achievement.
  • Travel for two members from each finalist organisation to attend the Awards presentation event in November 2016.
  • A communications package of photos and footage from the judge’s site visit to their organisation.
  • Promotion as a finalist in the Indigenous Governance Awards on the Awards website and other coverage.

All organisations that apply for the Indigenous Governance Awards will receive feedback on their applications and governance from the judging panel. Applying for the Awards is a great opportunity to reflect on the governance of your organisation or group and to receive expert advice based on your application.

How to apply?

Applications for the Indigenous Governance Awards closed on 20 May 2016. Thank you and good luck to all those who applied.

Categories and selection criteria

There are two award categories:

Category A. Outstanding examples of Indigenous governance in Indigenous incorporated organisations

Category B. Outstanding examples of Indigenous governance in non-incorporated initiatives or projects

In each category, we’re looking for governance that demonstrates:

  • Innovation
  • Effectiveness
  • Self-determination and leadership
  • Cultural relevance and legitimacy
  • Future planning, sustainability and governance resilience.


Judging process

The judging process for the Indigenous Governance Awards involves:

Assessment of applications

A review committee of the judging panel will assess all applications based on the selection criteria and shortlist the best applicants in each category.

An independent panel of judges will then review all the shortlisted applications and select eight finalists across the two categories.

This year’s finalists will be announced at the end of July 2016.

Site visits

Each finalist organisation will receive a site visit from members of the judging panel between August and October 2016. The site visit will involve consultation with members of the governing body or decision-making group as well as employees, managers, members and other stakeholders in the community (if applicable).

If appropriate, the site visits will also involve photography and filming and may result in possible media coverage for the finalist.

Final selection

Following site visits the judging panel will reconvene to review the site visit reports and decide the Winner and Highly Commended organisations in each category.

The winners will be announced at the Awards presentation event in November 2016.


Professor Mick Dodson AM – Chair

Professor Mick Dodson is a member of the Yawuru peoples, the traditional Aboriginal owners of land and waters around Broome. He is Director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University, Professor of Law at the ANU College of Law. He was formerly Malcolm Fraser & Gough Whitlam Harvard Chair in Australian Studies at Harvard University & the Director of the Indigenous Law Centre at UNSW.

Professor Dodson has been a prominent advocate on land rights and other issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. He was Australia’s first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and in 2009 he was awarded Australian of the Year.

Prof Gary Banks AO

Gary Banks has spent most of his professional life in organisations devoted to improving policy outcomes for society.  He is Dean/CEO of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), having been Chairman of the Productivity Commission since its inception in 1998. In that capacity, he chaired COAG’s Review of Government Services and was the inaugural convenor for its biennial report Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage.

He was also responsible for the Office of Regulation Review. He personally headed a number of major public inquiries by the Commission and chaired the Prime Minister’s Regulation Taskforce in 2006. Gary has worked for international organisations and in economic consultancy and currently chairs the OECD’s Regulatory Policy Committee. He is also an independent director of Macquarie Group and was appointed to the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council in late 2013. He holds a Professorial Fellowship at Melbourne University and is an Adjunct Professor at the Australian National University.  He was awarded the Order of Australia in 2007 in recognition of his service to public policy.

Eddie Cubillo

Eddie is an Aboriginal man with strong family links in both the urban and rural areas throughout the Northern Territory. His mother is of Larrakia/Wadjigan descent and his father is Central Arrente. Mr Cubillo’s family has experienced the intergenerational effects of the policy of forced removal of children of mixed descent from their family and country

He has developed a sound understanding of Aboriginal culture, society and politics and he has contributed to the needs of Aboriginal people as individuals and for the benefit of the community as a whole. His family background, combined with his sporting and cultural ties has brought him into contact with people of different backgrounds.

Mr Cubillo has over 20 years’ experience working at the grass roots of Aboriginal affairs. In 2001 he obtained a Bachelor of Laws Degree and in 2002 he was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. In 2009 Mr Cubillo completed a Masters of Laws (International Law and International Relations) at Flinders University.

In 2010 Mr Cubillo was appointed the Anti – Discrimination Commissioner of the Northern Territory and following his term in October 2012, Mr Cubillo took on the role of Executive Officer with NATSILS. As the Executive Officer he championed the rights of Indigenous Australians in a legal context. Mr Cubillo has recently gained an opportunity to work for Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council.

Jason Glanville

Jason Glanville is a member of the Wiradjuri peoples from south-western New South Wales. He was the inaugural CEO of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) based in Redfern. Prior to joining the NCIE Jason was Director of Programs and Strategy at Reconciliation Australia.

Over the last twenty years Jason has worked in a range of positions in community-based Indigenous organisations, state and federal governments and non-government peak organisations. Jason is Chair of the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute and sits on the boards of Reconciliation Australia, National Australia Day Council, Carriageworks and the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre.

Glenda Humes

Ms Glenda Humes is a descendant of the Gunditjmara people from the Western Districts of Victoria and her grandmother’s people the Jawoyn from the Northern Territory.

Ms Humes has had more than thirty years of working in Aboriginal Affairs at the local, state and commonwealth level in senior management. She has a law degree  and a master degree in Indigenous Social Policy.  Ms Humes has been a director on many different Boards at the  local, state and national level i.e Winnunga Nimmitjah Aboriginal Medical Services, Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committees,  the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and General Practice Education and Training. Ms Humes has a great interest in how organisations are managed and the role of Boards. Ms Humes was the CEO of the South West Aboriginal Medical Service when they received a High Commendation in the 2008 Indigenous Governance Awards.

Glen Kelly

Glen Kelly is a Noongar man and served as the CEO of the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council from April 2006 to April 2015. In this capacity he was the Chief Negotiator of the Noongar Native Title Settlement and oversaw the authorisation of the agreement by all of the Noongar native title claim groups in early 2015. He has 21 years of experience in Native Title and Indigenous land related issues and has held a number of senior positions in community organisations and within government agencies. Glen sits on a number of committees and statutory authorities at a State and Commonwealth level.

Dr Simon Longstaff AO

Simon’s distinguished career includes being named as one of AFR Boss True Leaders for the 21st century, with Carol Schwartz noting; “I don’t know one CEO or chairman in corporate Australia who has not worked with Simon Longstaff”. Simon has a PhD in Philosophy from Cambridge University where he lectured and consulted to the Cambridge Commonwealth and Overseas Trusts. He worked in the Northern Territory in the Safety Department of BHP subsidiary, GEMCO before becoming the inaugural Executive Director of The Ethics Centre in 1991. He was also inaugural President of The Australian Association for Professional & Applied Ethics, and serves on a number of boards and committees across a broad spectrum of activities. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum.

Diane Smith-Gander

Diane Smith-Gander is non-Executive director AGL Energy, Wesfarmers Limited, Chair of Safe Work Australia, and President of Chief Executive Women. Diane has held a wide range of non-executive roles in the past including Chairman of Broadspectrum, Deputy Chairperson of NBNCo, non-executive director of the CBH Group, commissioner of Tourism WA and board member of the Committee for Perth.

Diane holds an MBA from the University of Sydney and a BEc from the University of Western Australia (UWA). She is a Fellow of the AICD and Governance Institute of Australia and an adjunct professor of corporate governance at UWA.


Paul Travers

Paul Travers has worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs since 1993 and has held senior roles in the Queensland Public Service and, most recently with BHP Billiton.

In 2000, Paul led the review of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage legislation. The review lead to the enactment of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 and the Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Act 2003, legislation which for the first time in Queensland recognised the fundamental right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to assess and manage their cultural heritage.

Paul negotiated some of the first Indigenous Land Use Agreements to be registered in Australia and was the lead State negotiator for the Saibai island native title claim, one of the first native title claims to be resolved through mediation since the Mabo decision. Paul currently manages Indigenous relations for BHP Billiton in both Queensland and New South Wales and is proud of the company’s commitment to leading change in this area to secure sustainable outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Raised in Belfast, Paul studied law at Cambridge University and worked as a barrister in private practice in London prior to moving to Australia in 1993.

Partnership with BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton has been supporting Reconciliation Australia’s Indigenous governance program since 2002. Since it began, the partnership has seen the implementation of significant nationwide initiatives including the Indigenous Governance Awards and the Indigenous Governance Toolkit.

The current partnership with BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities will see the Indigenous Governance Awards delivered in 2014 and 2016.

Media partners

To effectively promote the Indigenous Governance Awards to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities and to promote the successes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to a wide audience, Reconciliation Australia seeks media partnerships with appropriate Indigenous and non-Indigenous media organisations to cover the Awards.

Our 2016 media partners are the Koori Mail and the National Indigenous Radio Service.

koori Mail masthead

The Koori Mail has been a long-standing media partner for the Indigenous Governance Awards and we thank them again for their support in 2016.

The National Indigenous Radio Service (NIRS) is a new media partner in 2016. The NIRS is the national program radio distributor for First Nations people throughout Australia. We look forward to working with NIRS to promote the Awards in 2016.