From February to August 2017 Russell Styche worked from a temporary regional office in Kununurra. The east Kimberley area has a high concentration of small corporations that are some distance even from Kununurra, and a high need for support as it is geographically isolated, has limited access to services, low levels of formal education and English as a second or third language.

Russell Styche, Kununurra

Russell Styche, regional manager and Tubba-gah Wiradjuri man

Russell met with many energetic and motivated Aboriginal people, and worked to build and maintain relationships. Directors from the Kalumburu Aboriginal Corporation took the opportunity of Russell’s proximity and requested governance training. After a workshop with the directors and one of the managers, everyone agreed that further training would be worthwhile.

Then, the unexpected departure of the corporation’s business and administration managers introduced a new challenge. Clearly, the corporation would benefit from a wider range of support. Russell approached local staff from PMC and from Wunan Foundation Inc., a foundation for long-term economic and community development, inviting them to be involved. Together, they identified all Kalumburu projects that needed completing, and the ongoing programs that needed consistent monitoring. Russell suggested that ORIC’s corporation support and mentoring program could help the corporation during its transition—to develop a new governance and management structure.

Directors openly discussed the issues they faced and agreed that the program would be of great benefit. The corporation’s support and mentoring program will be conducted from June 2017 through to January 2018 with monthly visits by staff from ORIC, PMC and Wunan. The directors have already improved their understanding of good governance and gained confidence in their decision-making—and will continue to grow throughout the program.

Russell says: ‘Being on the ground to provide practical advice and information around running a corporation is the best part of this job. Covering a large remote area is challenging, and face-to-face contact is very valuable. It’s clear that governance training in this area is vital to the survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations.’