Some of the reasons that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups may choose to become incorporated are to:
- provide support to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders
- secure land
- seek greater recognition for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders
- provide legal assistance to Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders
- develop Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infrastructure
- promote art, performance or music.
Incorporation is voluntary for most groups, and there are several ways in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups can incorporate:
- with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC)
- under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006.
- under State or Territory associations legislation:
- with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
- under the Corporations Act 2001.
More information on registration options is available from the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations.
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The Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006The Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006
(CATSI Act) is the set of laws that establishes the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, and allows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups to form corporations.
Whether registration under the CATSI Act is appropriate for particular Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisations depends on individual circumstances. Some factors unique to the CATSI Act include:
- indigeneity—a majority of members and directors must be indigenous
- internal governance rules—a corporation’s constitution must meet minimum standards of governance and must be approved by the Registrar
- purpose—some types of organisations are inappropriate for registration under the CATSI Act - eg for example trade unions or corporations providing financial services
- corporate membership—bodies corporate or peak bodies can become members
- specialised assistance—in contrast to other regulators, the Registrar can provide assistance to CATSI corporations
- specialised regulatory powers—the Registrar has the power to appoint examiners and administrators
- mandatory incorporation—corporations holding or managing native title under the Native Title Act 1993 and the Native Title (Prescribed Bodies Corporate) Regulations 1999 must be incorporated under the CATSI Act
- transfers—the CATSI Act contains transfer provisions which allow organisations to transfer to the CATSI Act provided they meet the minimum requirements - eg the indigeneity requirement.
An application for registration
under the CATSI Act can be downloaded from the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations. It is free and contains further information about the steps and documentation required to register under the Act.
There are advantages to an indigenous group in becoming a corporation under the CATSI Act. These include:
- When they register the corporation, the members can choose not to be liable for the debts of the corporation.
- The rule book that governs how the corporation is run can take into account Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander customs and traditions.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations can operate nationally—they are not limited to the state or territory where they are registered.
- It is free to register as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation.
- Sometimes the Registrar may exempt corporations from lodging annual reports.
- Profits of the corporation can be distributed to members if the rule book allows for this.
- Corporations can access client assistance, support and information and training programs from the Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations.
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On this site
Aboriginal community organisations
Things to consider when setting up a community organisation
Resources for community organisations
Managing a community organisation
Frequently asked questions about community organisations
Indigenous corporations - Office of the Register of Indigenous Corporations