Indigenous Governance Awards 2016 finalists announced

Culture and self-determination key to effective and lasting change.

Nine high-performing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and initiatives have been selected as finalists in the 2016 Indigenous Governance Awards.

Each finalist organisation or initiative has been selected for their exceptional Indigenous governance and the positive and long-lasting change they are driving in their community.

“These finalists demonstrate the strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations and projects around the country”, Professor Mick Dodson, Chair of the Indigenous Governance Awards said.

“They represent the best of what is happening across Australia, and their successes show us that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are empowered to make decisions, substantial and sustainable change for the better is possible.”

Representing diverse sectors, language groups and ways of working, the finalists are:

Category A – Incorporated organisations

 Kalyuku Ninti – Puntuku Ngurra Limited
 Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS)
 Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre
 Muru Mittigar Limited
 Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation
 Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC)
 Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation

Category B – Non-incorporated projects
 Ara Irititja
 Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly
Professor Dodson said that the success of the finalist organisations and initiatives lies in their ability to draw upon traditional governance models to effectively respond to contemporary challenges.

“These organisations and projects take their corporate governance seriously as they deftly negotiate the requirements of non-Indigenous funders and the needs of their own communities, cultures and laws. By embedding culture at the heart of everything they do, all of the finalists are effectively finding solutions to complex issues that have long confounded governments and mainstream organisations.

“It’s time that mainstream Australia takes notice of these organisations and projects, and adopts a new discourse focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander success.”
In partnership with BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities, the Indigenous Governance Awards have celebrated successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations and projects since 2005. The Indigenous Governance Awards 2016 winners will be announced at an event in Sydney on 24 November.

Finalist biographies
Category A

Kalyuku Ninti – Puntuku Ngurra Limited
Based in Newman, Western Australia, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ) was established to help Martu look after their culture and heritage and to ensure that Martu’s ongoing connection with country would remain strong. KJ’s programs include an extensive ranger program in five communities, a leadership program, a return-to-country program and a program of diverse cultural knowledge management. Together, they have generated transformative change across the Martu communities. The outcomes span a wide range of social, cultural and economic benefits to both Martu and other stakeholders, such as the state and federal governments. Since its formation, KJ has grown to the point where it is the single biggest employer of Martu. One of the less tangible but equally important successes has been the reinstatement of cultural authority of the Martu Elders. They have an increased confidence in their ability to shape their future and have responded positively to the interest and commitment of younger Martu to learn and fulfil their cultural obligations.

Mallee District Aboriginal Services
Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) is located in the city of Mildura, Swan Hill, Kerang and Robinvale, Victoria and was established to provide a wide range of services to meet the needs of the local Aboriginal communities in cross-border locations along the Murray River in Victoria and New South Wales. Broadly speaking, MDAS is bringing about generational change and provides services that cover health, family services, housing, aged care, substance abuse, training, community development, emotional and social well-being, rehabilitation and justice. The services offered cover the entire lifespan from the “cradle to the grave”. MDAS is an Aboriginal Community controlled organisation to improve health and well-being for Aboriginal community in the Mallee region.

Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre
Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource Centre (MWRC) is a vocal advocate for the rights of women and their families from the Fitzroy Valley’s five main language groups, and beyond. Its foundational purpose, which continues to underlie the centre’s strategies and goals, is to provide a space of safety for women releasing themselves from domestic and family violence. As Marninwarntikura grew it expanded its programs to move beyond crisis. Today it integrates innovative approaches, informed by practices in trauma and healing, to support women and children over the long-term. Marninwarntikura believes that only generational change can break cycles of intergenerational trauma and the many harms that manifest from this trauma – including alcohol and other drug abuse, violence and FASD. The women engaging with Marninwarntikura and those working at the organisation have created the tools and resources which nurture and build self-worth, individual and collective empowerment, cultural pride and leadership, economic security and positive change. This is so all women, their families and their children are engaged in reconstructing a culturally rich and dynamic society with a healthy and exciting future.

Muru Mittigar Limited
The Muru Mittigar Aboriginal Cultural and Education Centre (Muru Mittigar) seeks to create a better understanding of Aboriginal culture in the wider community; create new jobs; develop workplace skills training and increase sustained employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians where the organisation operates. Muru Mittigar’s vision is to operate as an exemplary, commercially sustainable Aboriginal-owned social enterprise, making a significant, measurable and lasting difference in advancing Aboriginal culture (in particular Darug culture). The organisation does this by expanding Aboriginal contracting and consulting services through procurement in market-driven services, providing authentic education and tourism products and programs and, investment in well-being and financial counselling services to the Aboriginal community. Muru Mittigar strives to improving the economic and social capacity of all Aboriginal people to support themselves, and empowering their meaningful participation in their role as traditional custodians of Country.

Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation
Tangentyere Council is based in Alice Springs and works to ensure that the residents of the Alice Springs Town Camps and other Central Australian Aboriginal people are represented and respected by all levels of government and by external service providers. Tangentyere works to deliver culturally appropriate services and programs in a way that aims to sustain a peaceful, safe and positive way of life for Aboriginal people living on the Town Camps and in other Central Australian localities. Community leadership is supported by Tangentyere so that residents can access and participate in appropriate service delivery despite periodical changes in government policy. Tangentyere has continued to maintain a strong stance on issues of access and equity particularly with regard to issues related to housing, child protection and culturally sensitive work practices by external service providers.

Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC)
In the remote Northern Territory community of Yuendumu, WYDAC started as the Mt Theo Program in the early 1990’s, initially as a response to the petrol sniffing epidemic affecting the four Warlpiri communities, specifically working with young people who had disengaged as a result of high unemployment, crime, and addiction. Today WYDAC’s primary purpose is to develop strong young community leaders. There are two main program areas: Youth Development and Client Services. Within Youth Development, the Jaru Pirrjirdi program focuses on positive and meaningful pathways for young people, including education and employment. Within Client Services, the Warra-Warra Kanyi counselling program provides case management support as required. At the heart of WYDAC is the highly successful Mt Theo Outstation where at-risk youth spend several weeks at a time, on ‘country’, supported by community Elders and social workers, through a process of life-lessons around culture and community.

Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation
Based in Alice Springs, Western Desert Dialysis is an Aboriginal community-controlled, not-for-profit organisation providing dialysis treatment and support services to Indigenous renal patients from remote communities in Northern and Western Australia. Their name means “making all families well”, and it recognises that people must be able to stay on Country, to look after and be looked after by their families. Their mission is to improve the lives of people with renal failure, reunite families, and reduce the incidence of kidney disease in their communities. Run by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people, Western Desert dialysis works to provide culturally appropriate health care for people in remote communities, helping people to get home to Country and family.

Category B

Ara Irititja
Based in Adelaide, Ara Irititja’s goal is to create a sustainable, growing collection of historic and cultural multimedia material related to Aboriginal people from or on the APY Lands in SA, NT and WA and to repatriate it to communities across these lands. Ara Irititja also record cultural material for the archive and play an active role in ensuring that the archive can be accessed effectively in remote communities. Ara Irititja project is about the conservation of memory in a culture based on oral tradition. This is memory that goes beyond most cultural imaginations, back before the invention of writing, and many centuries before the Christian era. Every Anangu Elder carries a story — one that has been handed down through many generations and our project provides a platform for these stories to be told. Keeping Culture KMS not only conserves this knowledge — by photo, by video, by sound, by documentation — but also, by its nature it allows these stories to live. Most importantly, it allows them to live with the people to whom they belong.

Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly
The MPRA is the peak governance body for Indigenous people in the west, north-west and far west of NSW, made up of representatives of the 16 Indigenous communities, Murdi Paaki Aboriginal Young and Emerging Leaders and NSW Aboriginal Land Council Councillors from across the region. The Aboriginal population of
the MP region at the time of the 2011 Census was 8,331 (considered to be an under-estimate), or 18% of a total population of 48,797. It is the peak body for engaging with Government at all levels, and for the myriad agencies of Government to engage with Aboriginal people of the region. The MPRA’s major role is enabling and requiring a more strategic emphasis on engagement, responsiveness, co-ordination and accountability of Government and non-government agencies and the programs they deliver to and with Indigenous people.