Resilient Communities and Reliable Prosperity

James Glenn, Bentley James, Joe Morrison, Douglas Paton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Indigenous culture and society is central to the future development of North Australia. Although the physical assets are easily recognised – land and sea, pristine environments, biodiversity, minerals, fishing resources, places for tourism, and so on – the social and cultural assets of the people who belong there and who are defined by their land and sea are not so easily recognised. The many layers of paternal governance and agency superimposed over Indigenous customary estate-based social organisation have eroded local authority and control over recent generations. Despite this, persistent expressions of resilience abound, often obscured from and unrecognised in ‘top-down’ service delivery and higher order policy settings, for example in northern development, education and health. They appear in the matrix of connections to kin and country; in assertions of rights and identity through heritage, law and language; in sophisticated knowledge systems informing land and sea management; in attempts to reclaim leadership in over-governed communities; and in the fundamental local synergy with the dynamism of nature and its cycles.

This chapter seeks to show that these unique local qualities, expressed widely by Indigenous people, are core ingredients for personal and community resilience, assets to effective and innovative cross-cultural relationships (whether in personal settings or in development), and abundant across the North. With sharper conceptual tools to recognise some of these key strengths more effective relationships can be built to deliver valued outcomes where mutual interests overlap. Diverse examples are used to illustrate this, all of which are expressions of better governance relationships (or how they ought to be), stronger resilience, and indicative of a better understanding of reliable prosperity in the interface between Indigenous and broader society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Land Sector Development in Northern Australia
Subtitle of host publicationIndigenous rights, aspirations and cultural responsibilities
EditorsJeremy Russell-Smith, Glenn James, Howard Pedersen, Kamalijit K. Sangha
Place of PublicationBoca Raton
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages44
ISBN (Electronic)9780429471056
ISBN (Print)9781138600201
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


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