National Indigenous organisations in Australia: why governance environments matter

Josephine Bourne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article provides an overview of what governance means in different contexts and the implications these understandings have for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. It focuses on the organisational development journey Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been on at the national, regional and local levels in Australia. More specifically it reflects on the history of organisational development at the national level from the late 1950s up to the current time. Over this period Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations have predominantly emerged/been built in the community sector at the local and regional level. National Indigenous organisations1 have tended to experience short life spans beginning in the third sector (also referred to as non-government, not-for-profit, community or volunteer sector) then shifting to the public sector as statutory authorities over several decades. However, in the last decade national Indigenous organisations have re-emerged in the third sector. This article argues that despite continued hostile political conditions and environments, understanding the limitations and opportunities that national Indigenous organisations have in certain governance environments is important to ensure these organisations operate well and fulfill their desired objectives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-86
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Australian Indigenous Issues
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Indigenous governance
  • Indigenous organisations
  • Indigenous policy
  • organisational development
  • governance
  • governance environment


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