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What is governance?
Governance describes how people live and work together and the processes, structures and rules they agree upon to safeguard their assets and to achieve their aims and aspirations. Governance applies equally to nations, communities, formal and informal organisations and families. Good governance ensures that a group’s assets and resources are managed responsibly, transparently and fairly in a way that reflects its values and aspirations. The Institute on Governance defines governance at its most basic as, ‘Authority, Decision Making and Accountability’.
Corporate governance refers to how corporations are run and includes all the systems and processes put in place to control and monitor their operations, to maintain their values and realise their aims and objectives. Corporate governance is dependent on both having an effective governance structure in place, and the performance and values of the people responsible for running a corporation (see Australian Institute of Company Directors).
A corporation’s governance structure should clearly set out who has the authority to make important decisions and outline the roles and responsibilities of different people, such as members, directors, CEO, managers and staff. Accountability to a corporation’s members and staff, as well as to stakeholders such as funding bodies, regulatory authorities and the public are also important features of good corporate governance.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have their own concepts, systems and processes for effective governance that were in place before British sovereignty. Indigenous governance could be described as the unique ways in which Indigenous people come together to make decisions and engage in cultural, economic and social activities. There are many different Indigenous communities throughout Australia, with their own cultural and historical backgrounds, however there are some characteristics that some groups may have in common. These may include cultural institutions, organisation into family or clan based groups, cultural protocols regarding decision making, and the important role that leaders play.