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Accountability Constructions, Contestations and Implications: Insights from Working in a Yolngu Cross-Cultural Institution, Australia

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Abstract

Accountability, a keyword in the development discourse, also takes centre stage in the practical politics of the development processes. Accountability requirements for funding, governance and recognition operate at multiple scales to ensure standards are complied with, funds are accounted for, corruption is minimised, and the impact government and other donor contributions have on the development process is maximised. However, for many intended beneficiaries, the demands of accountability procedures and the relationships they set in place create tension and can conflict with local accountability practices and governance; as is exemplified by the experiences of the Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation in Northeast Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia. Dhimurru, an incorporated Aboriginal land and sea management organisation, was established by Yolngu land-owners, who have long-standing perspectives on accountability, self-determination, environmental protection and development that highlight the requirement and challenges of contextualising accountability in the context of local procedures and practices.

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