Contemporary Indigenous Knowledge and Governance

How we work

Our research proceeds from the ground up, respecting the knowledge and governance of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. We recognise the authority of Aboriginal elders and support their aspirations for their communities, languages and cultures. Our research is embedded in the collective life of particular places, and we work alongside the people who belong to that place. We work in good faith with members of remote communities and with the government and non-governmental organisations that serve them. We take care that our research is accessible to Indigenous knowledge communities and contributes to the capacity and agency of those communities.


What we do

We research policy, develop services, design technologies, and evaluate programs, working with community-based Aboriginal researchers, in many areas including:

  • Indigenous ecological knowledge and its mobilisation
  • Indigenous languages and their continuity
  • Land and sea management
  • Community development
  • Enterprise development

bulbsThe Contemporary Indigenous Knowledge and Governance team

Core Capabilities

  • Collaborative development of Indigenous service economy products, designing “business-solutions” and supporting Indigenous knowledge and culture workers.
  • Expertise in social science methods and analysis that emerge with design and development work
  • Collection and collaborative interpretation of stories and texts in Aboriginal languages, making texts publicly available on the terms of their owners.
  • Generate changed practices in knowledge, governance, and engagement around:
    • Indigenous ecological knowledge and its mobilisation
    • Indigenous languages and their continuity
    • Indigenous land management
    • Indigenous community development
    • Indigenous enterprise development

Our Impact

Aboriginal Knowledge Systems and Policy impact case study

  • Providing culturally and linguistically appropriate resources to equip Indigenous people to engage in digital economies
  • The development of resources to assist with professionalisation through recognition of existing skills and capacity for intercultural operation
  • On the ground negotiation around governance leading to increased capacity for cross-institutional engagement.


Our websites


Selected projects 

Examples of current and future projects the CIKG team are working on are:

Indigenous Leadership, Governance and Policy engagement

Indigenous leadership in the Northern Territory -  A collaborative research project between the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT Aboriginal Corporation (AMSANT) and the Centre for School Leadership (CSL). 

The need for research investigating Indigenous leadership in the NT Health and Education Industries has been identified as a high priority need. Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory struggle in building effective and sustainable communities of practice for a variety of reasons, and the leadership practices in schools and health agencies are critical in addressing and overcoming this issue.  

The aim of this research is to expand our collective understanding of Indigenous leadership in cross cultural contexts and identify leadership strategies and practices employed by successful Indigenous leaders. The research will potentially extend the current literature and public policy arena within the Northern Territory, given Indigenous community challenges impact the entire community. This research will involve selected Indigenous education and health leaders with the aim of collecting Indigenous leaders’ approaches to leading effective service outcomes in the Northern Territory.  

Wellbeing on Country

The northern Australian development policy is supported by resilient communities who can engage with opportunities such as: biosecurity management in remote areas; regional ageing societies; responding to the needs of marginalised people in disaster management; and business developed through knowledge economies. 

As a result of the recent CRN Northern Research Futures investment, a team is developing who are attracting partnership support from agencies across a range of investment areas related to the northern Australian development agenda – specifically, marine and agricultural development. This group will draw on knowledge of development issues, governance, planning and leadership to improve the engagement and capacity of Aboriginal communities in estate management planning and decisions. 

Social sustainability - Regional development in remote Indigenous Australia

Governments have been attempting to address social well-being and sustainable Indigenous employment in remote Australia but have been unable to achieve these goals. This policy failure underscores the view that universal mainstreaming approaches (i.e. needs-based economic development and top-down approaches) are ill-suited for communities whose cultural, economic and environmental circumstances are different from those of dominant society. 

This research examines the supply side of sustainable socio-economic development potential and how can it be turned into real socio-economic development and social well-being. 

A local knowledge and asset-based regional adaptation and development approach will be applied. For example, researchers from NI and the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) have been undertaking parallel research related to aquaculture development in remote communities. The water and product quality research, and research into business models and governance, have established the need for interdisciplinary research to improve responsiveness and address key issues through integrated approaches and outcomes for Aboriginal people.