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Case study_

The Maranguka Cross Sector Leadership Group

Aligning policy and resources towards an Aboriginal community-led agenda

A new case study of the Maranguka Cross Sector Leadership Group, prepared by the Sydney Policy Lab, offers insights for government and non-government organisations wishing to align policy and resources towards supporting community-led agendas for change.

The case study draws on the knowledge and practice of the Bourke Tribal Council through Maranguka, a community-led initiative based in the town of Bourke in Western NSW, which, as stated on the Maranguka Community Hub website, “is a grassroots vision for improving outcomes and creating better coordinated support for vulnerable families and children through the true empowerment of the local Aboriginal community.”

The case study examines a previously unexplored aspect of Maranguka – the Maranguka Cross Sector Leadership Group (CSLG), a key site of interaction and direct engagement between local Aboriginal community leadership and government and non-government organisations. The evolution and story of the Maranguka CSLG offers important lessons for those wishing to support and respond to Aboriginal community leadership – including politicians, government agencies, philanthropists, and service providers.

The Lab is in particular indebted to the participation of Maranguka Executive Director and Founder, Alistair Ferguson, who notes in his foreword to the report that:

“Maranguka, meaning ‘caring for others’ in the local Ngemba language, is a unique expression of self-determination and Cultural Authority from the Bourke Tribal Council. It has developed over many years and is a journey that the Bourke community is on together. Maranguka builds on our local community’s engagement over many years with a variety of NSW Government policy initiatives and draws on expertise and knowledge from researchers and other Indigenous communities around the world.

“Maranguka is using a collective impact framework to implement the Bourke Tribal Council’s Growing Our Kids Up Safe Smart and Strong strategy, aiming to change the way that services are provided to the local community. In this work, the Maranguka Cross Sector Leadership Group and Executive are very important for building relationships, exploring difficulties and creating shared accountability between the Bourke Tribal Council, government and non-government organisations.

“I hope that this case study can support the important work of the Maranguka CSLG, and also provide useful insights for other communities, governments and NGOs that want to get behind local leadership and support a community-led agenda for change.” – Alistair Ferguson, Maranguka Executive Director and Founder

The report also includes forewords from Teya Dusseldorp, CEO of Dusseldorp Forum, and Brad Hazzard MP, NSW Minister NSW for Health and Medical Research & Ministerial Champion for the Bourke Community and Maranguka

The Sydney Policy Lab’s research highlights four key factors involved in the Maranguka Cross Sector Leadership Group:

(1) strong community leadership to which other partners align their activities;

(2) the commitment, time and skills required to engage in deep collaboration and build trust around a common purpose;

(3) the importance of authorisation, including the need to respect Cultural Authority, and the role of political leaders in giving ‘permission’ to act; and

(4) different levels of accountability, formalised through milestone documents, structures and processes which lay the groundwork and tone for future activity.

While these lessons emerged from the specific context of the Maranguka initiative in Bourke led by the Bourke Tribal Council, they offer potential insights for other government and non-government organisations wishing to align policy and resources towards supporting community-led agendas for change.

Download the full report here (PDF, 1.9MB).

Research team: Professor Marc Stears, Mark Riboldi, Lara Smal.

Project partners: Maranguka Community Hub, Dusseldorp Forum, and Paul Ramsay Foundation.