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Russell-Mundine, GS 2010, 'From pumpkins to property management plans: developing the organisational capacity of the Jubal Aboriginal Corporation', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright GS Russell-Mundine 2010

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are warned that this thesis contains images of deceased persons.


Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are increasingly encouraged to develop enterprises, including tourism, as a means to address the chronic disadvantage experienced in many communities. While Governments have instigated programs and policies to assist the entry of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into the tourism industry, there still remains a deficit of sustainable Indigenous owned and operated ventures. By examining the experiences and activities at one Aboriginal Corporation, this study sought to better understand some of the factors necessary to support the development of such ventures in the Bundjalung Nation, North Eastern NSW. A further objective of the study was to examine the capabilities the communities themselves need to develop. The final objective was to gain insight into the experiences of a Bundjalung community as it engages with capacity and organisational development. Taking an ethnographic approach and drawing on the principles of Indigenist research, this study was conducted in the Bundjalung Nation of North Eastern NSW. The participants in the study were Board members of the Jubal Aboriginal Corporation, which was formed in 1999. As the Corporation sought to develop its organisational capacity to develop its ideas and aspirations into viable projects and enterprises it engaged in three key activities which were explored during the course of this study. The three key activities were; developing a Shared Responsibility Agreement (an agreement between the Federal Government and the Jubal Community); developing a Property Management Plan; and the process of establishing financial systems in order to meet regulatory obligations. The implications of the study are then analysed in a framework structured to correspond to the three points of entry for capacity development as identified by the United Nations’ Development Program. These points of entry are how the institution develops; how the entity develops and how the individual develops. By examining the three key activities this thesis highlights the importance of ensuring fundamental organisational capabilities are established in order to support the development of specific enterprises. Also demonstrated in this thesis is the need for Aboriginal Corporations to attend to the development of their organisational systems, structures and plans in addition to specific funded projects. Additionally, this thesis highlights the fact that despite increased rhetoric about ‘shared responsibility’ Governments are limited in their ability to address their own practises and to properly develop policy and funding flexibility to address the individual needs of each community. This is particularly true with regard to linking community development plans to policy and funding priorities as well as community training needs. This thesis further demonstrates the importance of tailored, place based training and mentoring in areas such as financial record keeping and governance. Finally, by exploring the particular experience of one community organisation, this thesis demonstrates some of the difficulties and challenges that an Aboriginal Community can encounter as they seek to develop projects and programs and to become economically independent and sustainable.

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