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The Australian National University

From Gove to Governance: Reshaping Indigenous Governance in the Northern Territory

Discussion Paper 265 / 2004

Abstract

This paper attempts to identify the key challenges facing Indigenous people and governments in reshaping the architecture of Indigenous governance in the Territory, and considers some strategic options for a way forward. First, a brief historical background is provided to Indigenous governance and local government in the Northern Territory. It examines why the issue of Indigenous governance has become a focus for greater policy and public attention recently, and highlights the implications of historical and current policy changes for future governance arrangements.

In the second part of the paper, more detailed attention is given to identifying and analysing the current challenges and issues that are influencing efforts to reshape Indigenous governance in the Northern Territory. The extent to which current initiatives address the broader attributes of strong governance is canvassed, and the solutions and processes involved are also examined. The key issues analysed include:

 

  • the state of community government;
  • the regionalisation of governance and service delivery;
  • the quest to establish a cultural match or process for governance;
  • the implications of Indigenous political aspirations and land rights for governance;
  • the suitability of the Local Government Act for future governance options;
  • the extent and role of governance education and capacity; and
  • the vexed issues of government funding and coordination.

It is timely for the Northern Territory Government to comprehensively re-examine the