Indigenous Governance Awards

The Indigenous Governance Awards share the success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations from around Australia.

The awards are held every two years and are proudly presented in partnership by Reconciliation Australia, the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute, and the BHP Foundation.

2024 Awards Open Now

Is your organisation or project kicking goals for community? We want to hear your story!
Apply now for the Indigenous Governance Awards 2024.
Do you know an organisation or project that should get their story out? Nominate them now!

Nominations and applications are now open and close on Friday 15 March 2024.

A person sits in front of a large Aboriginal artwork

Read on to find out which category relates to your organisation and how the application and selection process works. 

Applications are judged on five key criteria, with the winners of each category receiving $20,000 and an awards package.

Join us as we look back on the amazing winners and finalists from previous Indigenous Governance Awards. 

Categories

There are three award categories for outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous-led organisations:

Category 1: Non-incorporated organisations, initiatives or projects.

Category 2: Small to medium incorporated organisations.

Category 3: Large incorporated organisations.

Application and Selection Steps

  • Apply or nominate: submit an application with supporting documents or nominate an organisation.
  • Review and shortlist: review committee makes a shortlist for each category.
  • Judging: independent judging panel chooses three finalists for each category.
  • Site visits: judging panel members will visit each finalist which includes photos and video and possible media coverage.
  • Final selection: judging panel decides winners and highly commended recipients.
  • Announcement: winners and highly commended recipients announced at the awards event.

The judging panel gives feedback to all organisations that apply. Applying is a great way to reflect on your governance and get expert advice based on your application.

Prizes

$20,000 for winners of each category.

All finalists receive an awards package:

  • An offer to participate in a partnership opportunity with a leading RAP organisation, as chosen by the finalist
  • A Reconciliation Australia award to commemorate their achievement
  • Travel for two members to attend the awards event
  • A communications package of photos and footage from the judges’ site visit to their organisation
  • Promotional coverage including on the awards website
  • An invitation to meet with Parliamentarians to promote Indigenous Governance in practice.

Judging Criteria​

Self-determination and strengthening self-governance and leadership for its members and community, including that:

  • the governance arrangements put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the driver’s seat
  • the organisation actively engages and maintains positive relationships with its stakeholders and wider community
  • it encourages community participation and listens to feedback
  • it pursues long-term goals that align with their community’s aspirations.

Effectiveness in solving problems, overcoming challenges and achieving positive results, including whether:

  • the governance model and processes help it to achieve its purpose
  • it has clear definitions of governance success and a process to measure achievement
  • it has proven processes to manage disputes, complaints, or conflict.
  •  

Cultural legitimacy in fitting, reflecting, and strengthening the community’s or region’s culture, including whether:

  • the community or region’s cultural beliefs, values, rules and traditions are at the heart of its governance model and processes
  • culture plays an important role in how it functions
  • it actively engages with members/community and reflects their interests and it has the support of the community
  • it adapts to the needs of the community.
  •  

Innovation and ingenuity in delivering unique, creative and resourceful governance practices in response to local conditions and circumstances.

Sustainability in planning for the future and adapting to changing circumstances, including whether:

  • it has a clear vision and prepares for the future
  • it’s open and responsive to change and adaptation
  • it has established a process for succession
  • it actively develops future leaders.
  •  

Previous Winners & Finalists

Take a look at the winners and finalists from previous Indigenous Governance Awards:

The Indigenous Governance Awards 2020 were postponed due to the pandemic. 

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Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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