First Nations Governance Advisory Forum launched by AICD


    Under the AICD’s Innovate RAP program, the organisation is committed to improving representation of First Nations people in Australian boardrooms and building a community of First Nations governance leaders. As part of that work, the AICD First Nations Governance Advisory Forum began discussions in June this year. Here we outline the aims of the Forum and reveal the members taking part.

    The newly-created AICD First Nations Governance Advisory Forum held its first meeting on 25 June this year. The aim of the Forum is to promote discussion on issues of importance to First Nations directors and to provide opportunities for dialogue about governance and practice matters directly affecting First Nations directors and First Nations AICD members.

    The Forum will also consider and advise the AICD on governance and related policy issues relevant to First Nations directors.

    Forum members include:

    • AICD First Nations Sector Lead Justin Agale MAICD
    • Ian Hamm MAICD, Chair Indigenous Land & Sea Corporation and First Nations Foundation, board member AICD and Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission
    • Brad Welsh GAICD, chief executive and MD of Energy Resources of Australia, director at nib Holdings and nib Health Funds
    • Steve Rossingh, CEO of Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation Board
    • Emma Garlett, director First Nations consultancy Garlett Group, Industry Fellow at Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining at University of Queensland, board member Indigenous Legal Issues Committee
    • Lauren Ganley GAICD, Head of Telstra First Nations Strategy & Engagement, member of AICD’s NT Division Council

    Organisational representatives on the Forum include Indigenous Business Australia, the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) and the Australian National University (ANU).

    AICD First Nations Sector Lead Justin Agale MAICD said the Forum will meet twice a year, position itself as a unique voice on First Nations issues in the governance community and develop strategic engagement within the sector.

    AICD Roundtable events were held early in 2024 with First Nations members from different sectors and invitations were sent to people in different fields of endeavour ranging from Native Title to health, ESG, cultural knowledge, ASX and land management.

    “We hope through the Forum to build a network of meaningful strategic partnerships and a community of First Nations governance leaders to guide the develop of effective governance,” Agale said.

    “Through our AICD First Nations scholarship program, we aim to create a develop a director pipeline to provide for a diverse First Nations community of director-ready people to provide stewardship for organisations both First Nations and non-First Nations.”  

    AICD CEO and Managing Director Mark Rigotti said, “The AICD is conscious that we needed to increase our direct engagement with First Nations stakeholders and this Forum is just one way we are doing that. The formation of the Forum is another step on our Reconciliation journey and is consistent with our mission to strengthen society through world-class governance.”

    Responsibilities of the Forum include:

    • Identifying key issues of relevance to First Nations directors that warrant further attention by the AICD
    • Providing feedback on AICD activities and issues put to the Forum by the AICD
    • Assisting the AICD to formulate, review and comment on policies relevant to the governance of First Nations directors.

    Formation of the advisory Forum is the culmination of ongoing work which has been achieved by the AICD so far in First Nations engagement. This includes First Nations involvement in Australian Governance Summit panels, Voice panel discussions, the Essential Director Update and Reconciliation Week events. Extensive articles have also been published to highlight First Nations achievement in business and in public arenas.

    A resource was also developed for boards based on a speech delivered by Agale to the AICD’s Essential Director Update in 2023. Feedback on the resource has been positive and several requests have been made for Agale to speak to boards. 

    Image captured on the Land of the Kaurna people. It is known as Wirruwarrungga or Ruwarunga by the Traditional Owners, the Kaurna people, and is of significance as being the site of a freshwater spring said to be created by the tears of Tjilbruke, the creator being.


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