The Bureaucratic requirements to interface with mainstream funding institutions are enormous and increase each year. They can be expected to become significantly greater following the farming out of ATSIC funding to other Govt Depts.
Rather than emulating the “heroic”, alpha male, business manager model, of some high powered individual making decisions of huge consequence, etc, communities would be wiser to create management teams, consisting of many people who can multitask the various office duties, enabling load sharing, task rotation, checking, back-up, brainstorming and being generally pro-active. At this level, responsible work is also fun. Within teams, individuals could also specialise where their own strengths and interests lie, and crucial skills such as bookkeeping could be taught to all team members. Management teams should involve as many people as possible so that tasks are not overwhelming, and be funded, as far as possible through CDEP. It could involve many people on a part-time basis, and would be one answer to the paperwork overwhelm. A total list of skills required for management of an Aboriginal community might include the following:
- High Degree of Computer Literacy: including fluency in Windows, Word, Excel, CDEP Manager, PC Anywhere, Computer Accounting, etc.
- Bookkeeping Skills: to be able to keep computer accounts and do financial returns.
- Purchasing Skills: knowledge of products and prices, coupled with sufficient interest and drive to spend prudently and seek out sensible bargains.
- Business and Enterprise Skills: to set up and maintain businesses that are relevant and well run.
- Organising Skills: to integrate the many diverse activities into a cohesive well functioning, integrated whole.
- Crisis Management Skills: to cope and successfully deal with the many crises that will occur, and turn then into opportunities.
- Problem Solving Skills: the ability to seamlessly integrate the entire infrastructure, and to sort out any problems that occur in any aspect of it.
- Planning Ability: to detail how the plan can unfold in the best all round way.
- Ability to Relate to Local People Responsibly: and deal with them openly, with honesty and integrity, in ways that do not take away their dignity, nor favour some over others.
- Ability to Develop Participants: to become more responsible, capable, committed and skilled.
- Empathy: to put his or herself in the participants position, to understand and appreciate others needs and aspirations.
- Ability to Liaise: with Govt Departments eg ATSIC, ATO, Centrelink, etc.
m. Capacity for Consulting and Facilitating: to draw the aspirations and best ideas from participants, and not make the project into one’s own desires or fantasies.
- Training Skills: the ability, and the commitment, for non-Aboriginal coordinators to train Aboriginal staff for their own replacement.
- Conflict Resolution Skills: to bring together and reconcile conflicting parties and keep the project moving ahead harmoniously as planned.
- Adaptability: Be able to adapt oneself to the many varied situations, clerical and practical, as required during the course of each day.
- Proactivity: to be up to date, functioning in real-time, disarming problems as they begin to arise, scanning options as they emerge.
- Determination: to keep the project on track despite obstacles and obstructions, without going off on tangents or getting bogged down in inactivity.
- Practicality: Capacity to solve practical problems, and design practical solutions that are simple, economical, efficient and effective, service computers and keep them running, etc.
- Honesty and Integrity: to be above-board and beyond reproach in all financial dealings. Aboriginal money should be accorded the respect of a sacred site.
- Fairness: to treat everybody without favour or disfavour, and according everybody equal rights and opportunities.
- Community Spiritedness: to be able to work cooperatively, with all people, and bring together apparently diverse elements of community life.
Whilst this may seem a daunting list for any one person to fill, they are the qualities that the work itself demands of the position. Anybody working in management are pressed by the work that needs to be done, to develop these qualities. They do not need to be all developed in any one person, but by the team as a whole, although there may be qualities that everybody needs to manifest, such as honesty, fairness and community-spiritedness. As long as all bases are covered, all responsibilities are competently fulfilled from within the management team, and a spirit of cooperation exists, community management will work effortlessly.
Jobs can be assigned to persons having the appropriate qualities, eg, the most fair-minded handling hiring, and the most scrupulously honest handling the money, and someone else internally auditing financial operations as an ongoing practice, etc. Once the team is working smoothly, some jobs could be intelligently rotated or swapped around so that workers people become multi-skilled, and can back up each other, and everyone in the team understands how the whole administration works, and how it running in detail.
Once management has competent control, attention should turn to developing many trainees, so that the community always has an abundance of administrative skills.