A case study of government and non-government organisations aligning policy and resources towards an Aboriginal community-led agenda.

“One of the key answers to the question of ‘what do you want out of this?’ is a trusted, respectful, and meaningful relationship between community leaders and government. And that’s two-way learning there because, at the moment, you have Aboriginal community leaders rightfully very mistrustful of any of these kinds of processes and reluctant to engage. This kind of structure and development will, hopefully, create that forum where community and government can come together and be a bit of a lighthouse for that.”

Alistair Ferguson, Maranguka Executive Director and Founder

This case study draws on the knowledge and practice of the Bourke Tribal Council through Maranguka, a community-led initiative based in the town of Bourke in Western NSW, which is a grassroots vision for improving outcomes and creating better-coordinated support for families and children through the local Aboriginal community.

The document was prepared by the Sydney Policy Lab at the University of Sydney in partnership with Maranguka and members of the Cross-Sector Leadership Group.

The Maranguka Cross-Sector Leadership Group (CSLG), a key site of interaction and direct engagement between local Aboriginal community leadership and government and non-government organisations. The evolution and story of the Maranguka CSLG offers important lessons for those wishing to support and respond to Aboriginal community leadership – including politicians, government agencies, philanthropists, and service providers.

These lessons centre around four key factors:

  1. strong community leadership to which other partners align their activities;
  2. the commitment, time and skills required to engage in deep collaboration and build trust around a common purpose;
  3. the importance of authorisation, including the need to respect Cultural Authority, and the role of political leaders in giving ‘permission’ to act; and
  4. different levels of accountability, formalised through milestone documents, structures and processes which lay the groundwork and tone for future activity.

While these lessons emerged from the specific context of the Maranguka initiative in Bourke led by the Bourke Tribal Council, they offer potential insights for other government and non-government organisations wishing to align policy and resources towards supporting community-led agendas for change.

Download the Report

As part of the Maranguka Cross-Sector Leadership Group, my role is to listen first, respecting the leadership and expertise of Aboriginal elders and the Bourke Tribal Council, and to remove barriers to change within the government.

Brad Hazzard MP
NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research
Ministerial Champion for the Bourke Community and Maranguka