Dr Diane Smith

Fellow (Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Program Manager)

PhD (The Australian National University)
MS (Anthropology) (The Australian National University)
BA Hons (Anthropology) (Queensland University)
Ass. Dip. (Furniture Design) (The Australian National University)

T +61 2 6125 0160

E diane.smith@anu.edu.au


Dr Diane Smith joined NCIS in April 2015 as its Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Program Manager. Her PhD (Anthropology, Public Policy) from the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at The Australian National University on Cultures of governance and the governance of culture: Indigenous Australians and the State investigates Indigenous networked modes of governance and the intercultural arena where Indigenous governance values and structures articulate with the governmentality of the Australian state. Diane also has a Masters Degree (Anthropology) from ANU and Honours (Anthropology) from Queensland University, as well as an Associate Diploma (Furniture Design) from the ANU Institute of Arts.


Diane is an anthropologist with over 40 years' experience working with Indigenous Australian communities, groups and organisations in remote, rural and urban locations across Australia. She has extensive field research experience using a diverse range of methodologies, and has worked as an employee of Indigenous organisations and a consultant on Indigenous public policy projects.

As part of her research and outreach contributions, Diane has been a member of the National Native Title Tribunal conducting mediations and arbitrations. She was a Chief Investigator for the Australian Indigenous Community Governance Research Project, one of the largest multi-disciplinary research undertakings into governance carried out in Australia. Based on that research, she produced the written and creative learning content for the Indigenous Governance Toolkit, a web-based resource tool for Indigenous Australians working to build and strengthen their governance arrangements. She is currently a Board member of the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute.

Scholarly interests

Diane's research interests have focused on varied issues of Indigenous culturally-based modes of governance, organisational and community governance, the governance of Australian governments, identity and political organisation, Indigenous socioeconomic status, resource and economic development, family and household organisation, women's ritual and site systems, native title and land rights, and community-development practice. Diane's approach to scholarly projects is to produce robust evidence and analysis that will "make the research count" on the ground.


  • (Forthcoming) Robert Chapman, Miles Holmes, Linda Kelly, Diane Smith, Jayne Weepers and Alyson Wright, 'Yakarra-pardija-pina: Insights from a Developmental Approach to Rebuilding Governance in Aboriginal Communities'. Aboriginal Studies Press (AIATSIS).
  • 2009 Smith, D.E. 'From Collaboration to Coercion: A story of governance failure, success and opportunity in Australian Indigenous Affairs', chapter in Governing Through Collaboration: Managing Better Through Others, Australian and New Zealand School of Government, ANU EPress publication.
  • 2008 Smith, D.E. 'Cultures of Governance and the Governance of Culture: Transforming and containing Indigenous institutions in West Arnhem Land', in Contested Governance: Culture, power and institutions in Indigenous Australia, co-edited by Janet Hunt, Diane Smith, Stephanie Garling and Will Sanders, CAEPR, ANU EPress publication.
  • 2007 Smith, D.E. 'Networked Governance: Issues of Policy, Power and Process in a West Arnhem Land Regional Initiative', in Nigya: Talk the Law, Governance in Indigenous Communities, 1: 24–52.
  • 2005 'Indigenous households and community governance', in D. Austin-Broos and G. Macdonald (eds), Culture, Economy and Governance in Aboriginal Australia, Sydney University Press, Sydney.
  • 2004 Smith, D.E. 'From Gove to Governance: Reshaping Indigenous governance in the Northern Territory', Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper No. 265, The Australian National University, Canberra, 28pp
  • 2003 Dodson, M. and Smith, D.E. 'Good Governance for sustainable development: Strategic issues and principles for Indigenous Australian communities', Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper No. 250, The Australian National University, Canberra, 28pp.
  • 2002 Smith, D.E. 'Jurisdictional devolution: towards an effective model for Indigenous community self determination', Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper No 233, The Australian National University, Canberra, 36pp.
  • 2002 Smith, D.E. 'Indigenous Australian Households and the 'gammon' economy: Applied anthropological research in the welfare policy arena', Practicing Anthropology, 23(1): 5-9.
  • 2001 Smith, D.E. 'Valuing native title: Aboriginal, statutory and policy discourses about compensation', Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper No. 222, The Australian National University, Canberra, 36pp.
  • 2001 Smith, D.E. (ed) Indigenous Children and their Families: A Community Case Study Approach to Evaluating Government Welfare Policy and Payments, Research Monograph No 17, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, The Australian National University, Canberra.
  • 1997 Smith, D.E. and Finlayson, J. (eds). Fighting Over Country: Anthropological Perspectives, Research Monograph No.12, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, ANU, Canberra, 216pp.

Updated:  1 May 2015/ Responsible Officer:  NCIS Project Coordinator/ Page Contact:  NCIS Administrative Officer