Indigenous governance awards honour healing, land, ethics


    More than 300 people gathered in Sydney for the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards in Sydney this week to award outstanding leadership in Indigenous-led entities from all around Australia.

    Taking out the award for large organisations, the Perth-based Wungening Aboriginal Corporation, which has around 200 staff and deals with addiction and support services for domestic violence, homelessness and child protection, is a force for healing in the community, according to Wungening CEO, Daniel Morrison (pictured above).

    “Something I love about working at Wungening is that the board of directors I work with are not scared of challenges. They don’t shy away from what really needs to be done. We take on the really hard and tough causes. We deal with some of the ha rdest and most wicked issues.

    He told the awards night that by combining Aboriginal ways of working with good governance and therapeutic services, “we have been able to make significant changes in our communities, which is something we are very satisfied with”.

    Examples of services are Aboriginal controlled and run drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, which are more effective than mainstream services, he told the AICD in an interview. The organisation also partners with other Aboriginal bodies and has very close-knit relationships with a community that trusts them, he said.

    Hosted by Reconciliation Australia (RA) and the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI), the awards program is backed by the BHP Foundation and has run since 2005. Speakers at the awards night held at the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour included Linda Burney, the new federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, Karen Mundine, CEO of RA and Jessica Bulger MAICD, CEO of AIGI. Legendary singer-songwriter Archie Roach also performed three songs on stage in a moving appearance which earned a standing ovation.

    In the category for Indigenous-led SMEs, the NSW-based Brewarrina Local Aboriginal Land Council won for its fight for land and self-determination. “Cultural preservation of our land and our environment is the first priority of business for our local Aboriginal Land Council. That sets the platform for very strong governance,” Chairman David Kirby said.

    Taking out the category for Indigenous-led non-incorporated initiatives was the Sydney-based Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) Human Research Ethics Committee. It is the peak body for Aboriginal controlled health services in NSW and the committee helps ensure that Aboriginal people are at the centre of Aboriginal health research.

    “The Ethics Committee helps ensure that Aboriginal people are at the centre of Aboriginal health research, and provides an Aboriginal lens to make sure that research is conducted ethically and in a culturally safe way,” Committee Co-chair, Dr Summer May Finlay said.

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