Background Paper to the Indigenous Governance Development: a forum to map current and future research and resource needs

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This background paper has been prepared by Diane Smith and Toni Bauman with assistance from Robynne Quiggin. It aims to provide some context for participants at the Forum in thinking about Indigenous governance research, development and related practical resources. It draws on a wide range of relevant research and reports by a number of authors and organisations so as to cover key themes, perspectives and issues for discussion. Because participants in the Forum have a diversity of professional backgrounds and are engaged in a range of governance work, the paper is written for a varied audience rather than in an academic format specifically for other researchers. It aims to paint a broad canvas, rather than addressing in detail the range of views around specific issues.

To inform discussions at the Forum, this background paper considers the current state of research and practical resources, commencing with an overview of some relevant governance concepts, followed by a consideration of the conditions that have shaped the turn towards governance within Indigenous Australia. The paper then examines the concept of research itself and associated practice, and provides a summary of the coverage and foci of Australian research into governance. Issues to do with 'making the research count' by translating evidence into practical tools, capacity and resources for Indigenous governance development are canvassed. An initial scan is presented of the gaps in both research and resources. In conclusion, a set of questions is posed which can be taken further by participants during Forum discussions.