This paper outlines two pilot case studies which examine how international development non-government organisations (INGOs) conduct their work with Aboriginal organisations and communities in Australia. I was keen to explore how INGOs working with Indigenous communities and community organisations reflected the community development (or bottom–up) approaches which both the Indigenous sector and the INGO sector favour. This is in contrast to the service-delivery (or top-down) approach more common in government-funded programs. I also wanted to investigate the ‘partnerships’ operating between INGOs and Indigenous organisations or programs. ‘Partnership’ has become a word used to mean almost any type of relationship between organisations, so I wanted to explore what ‘partnership’ meant in these cases. The first part of the paper sets out the rationale for the study, examines the available literature, and outlines the approach I took in developing the research. The two case studies follow. Each describes the two organisations and their programs relevant to the partnership I researched. It then examines some of the features of these partnerships and the program approaches taken, and draws some conclusions about what have been important factors in their success. The study also highlights some of the challenges these case study partnerships face. A brief conclusion reflects on some of the issues these case studies raise for Indigenous development in Australia more broadly.
Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians; Indigenous; community development; international development; non-government organisations; partnership.