Session 6

John Taylor and Paul Lane

The Yaruwu Household Survey

This paper presents a case study of an exercise in Aboriginal community governance. It sets out the background events that led one native title body corporate (Nyamaba Buru Yawuru) to secure information for its own needs as an act of self-determination and essential governance and it presents some of the key findings from that exercise. As the Indigenous rights agenda shifts from the pursuit of restitution to the management and implementation of benefits, those with proprietary rights are finding it increasingly necessary to build internal capacity for post-native title governance and community planning, including in the area of information retrieval and application. As an incorporated land-holding group, the Yawuru people of Broome are amongst the first in Australia to move in this area of information gathering, certainly in terms of the degree of local control, participation and conceptual thinking around the logistics and rationale for such an exercise. In launching and administering the  Knowing our Community household survey in Broome, the Yawuru have set a precedent in the acquisition of vital demographic information for internal planning and community development in the post-native title era.

Paul Lane has a long career in Indigenous human rights and social development issues. He has been involved with some of the most significant legal and political events impacting Indigenous Australians in the past 40 years, including the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the National Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. He is currently the Executive Director of Lingiari, a human rights social development organisation based in the Kimberley Region of Northern Australia.

Paul is also a Director of the Kimberley Institute, a policy research organisation focussing on governance and sustainability issues. In recent years Paul s focus has been in working with Aboriginal groups across Northern Australia on the securing of native title outcomes for their traditional lands and waters. This work has involved participation in partnerships with Northern Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) EcoTrust Australia and Indigenous Land Councils on matters of sustainability and land and sea management.

Professor John Taylor is Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University. For the past 25 years John has conducted research on demographic, social and economic change among Indigenous Australians and has published widely on these issues in Australian and international books and journals. He is a member of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Advisory Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics, the Expert Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics and a Board member of the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse. He has been prominent in demonstrating the application of demographic analysis to Indigenous policy.