This is ORIC's eigth report on the top 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations. It collates and compares a range of data provided by corporations as part of their annual reporting.
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 no part may be reproduced without written permission from the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC). Requests and inquiries about reproduction and rights should be addressed to the Section Manager, Communications Section, ORIC, PO Box 29, Woden ACT 2606.
© Commonwealth of Australia 2016
Produced by ORIC, September 2016
This report is published on the ORIC website at www.oric.gov.au.
When interpreting the data in this report readers should be aware of the following:
- The data has been supplied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations in audited financial statements and general reports lodged with the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (the Registrar). It is current up to 16 May 2016. The accuracy of the data relies on the quality of the information lodged.
- The geographic location of a given corporation is determined by the address of its registered office. It is important to note that a corporation may be registered in one state or territory, yet provide services to a client base spread across more than one state or territory.
- While many corporations operate in more than one sector, income in this report relates to the overall activities of the corporations and cannot be broken down by sector.
- At the time of analysis, a very small number of corporations had not provided their financial information for one or more financial years in the period covered by this report. For the 2014–15 financial year, 97.1 per cent of all corporations were compliant with their reporting obligations under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) as at 30 June 2016. To a limited extent, gaps in the data have affected the aggregate figures presented in this report, such as growth in income and assets.
- The term ‘departures’ applies to corporations that were ranked in the top 500 for 2013–14 but not for 2014–15.
- All references to the previous financial year data are sourced from The top 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations 2013–14.
- Revised information from subsequent or updated reports lodged by corporations for previous financial years is not reflected in these statistics.
The CATSI Act establishes the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations and allows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups to form corporations. The CATSI Act delivers modern corporate governance standards—
it emphasises the importance of compliance and reporting as a mechanism to improve transparency and accountability. The CATSI Act provides a legislative mechanism to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people build strong corporations, strong people and strong communities.
Corporations registered under the CATSI Act must be owned and controlled by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: the majority of directors and members must be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people (sections 29-5 and 246-5).
The Registrar is an independent statutory office holder appointed by the minister responsible for Indigenous affairs. The role of the Registrar is to administer the CATSI Act. The Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) supports the Registrar to regulate and deliver services to corporations registered under the CATSI Act.
The combined income of the top 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations for 2014–15 was $1.88 billion (compared to $1.74 billion in 2014–15, an increase of 8.2 per cent).
The ten-year average annual growth rate of total income for corporations was 9.4 per cent.
In comparison to 2013–14 the average income of the top 500 corporations in 2014–15 increased from $3.48 million to $3.76 million.
Corporations in the Pilbara region have experienced the first fall in average income since 2007–08. However their average income is still well above the national average.
In 2014–15 the greatest source of revenue for the top 20 corporations came from self‑generated income (43.0 per cent of total income). Government funding made up 39.3 per cent of the total income.
As in 2013–14, the health and community services sector was the largest with 197 of the top 500 corporations operating in this sector (39.4 per cent).
increased from $3.48 million to $3.76 million.
There were 11,095 FTE employees within the top 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations.
The combined value of assets held by the top 500 corporations was $2.224 billion (compared to $2.104 billion in 2013–14, an increase of 5.7 per cent).
As at 30 June 2015 there were 144 registered native title bodies corporate (RNTBCs), up from 129 last year.
In 2014–15 the combined income of RNTBCs almost doubled (from $57.5 million to $112.0 million).
The average income of RNTBCs that recorded an income greater than zero (54.2 per cent of RNTBCs) was $1,436,136 compared to $844,905 in 2013–14.
This report provides information about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporate sector, specifically Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations registered under the CATSI Act.
Profile of corporations registered under the CATSI Act
Table 1: Number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations registered under the CATSI Act
|Number of registered corporations a||2552||2605||2723||2210 b||2286||2391||2488||2596||2688|
|Number of new registrations||111||84||125||163||187||173||155||163||170|
A total of 2688 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations were registered under the CATSI Act as at 30 June 2015.
There were 170 new registrations during 2014–15, up from 163 in 2013–14 (table 1). Of these, 11 were transfers of existing entities from other incorporation legislation.
Under the CATSI Act all corporations are required to submit one or more reports to the Registrar depending on their size (small, medium or large) and income.
Figure 1: Reporting compliance for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations, 2001–02 to 2014–15
Figure 1 shows that since 2001–02 the percentage of corporations that have complied with their reporting requirements has increased significantly from 24 per cent to over 97 per cent. Corporations have now sustained a rate of compliance of above 95 per cent for the past six years.
Geographic spread of the top 500 corporations
Figure 2: Geographic spread of the top 500 corporations, 2014–15
As shown in figure 2, the Northern Territory had the most corporations in the top 500 in 2014–15 (165 corporations, making up 33.0 per cent of the total 500).
The other three geographic jurisdictions with a large number of corporations in the top 500 were Western Australia (127), Queensland (95) and New South Wales (66). This order of ranking has remained unchanged since 2012–13.
Figure 3: Changes in the number of the top 500 registered corporations by state/territory, 2013–14 to 2014–15
The number of corporations in the top 500 changed for all states/territories from the previous financial year except for the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania (figure 3). Queensland saw the biggest decline in corporations in the top 500, with eight fewer. In contrast nine more corporations based in Western Australia moved into the top 500.
In this report ‘income’ refers to total income as reported in corporations’ audited financial statements or general reports. This may include self-generated income, government grants, philanthropic gifts and other income sources.
In 2014–15 the combined income of the top 500 corporations was $1.882 billion, an increase from $1.739 billion in 2013–14 (nominal increase of 8.2 per cent).
Figure 4: Changes in overall income of the top 500 corporations, 2004–05 to 2014–15
The overall income generated by the top 500 corporations has in the main continued an upward trend over the past decade. In 2009–10 there was a small decline and in 2013–14 a slight flattening off but 2014–15 saw another surge in overall income generation for the sector.
Over the past decade, the overall income generated by the top 500 corporations has increased almost two and a half times—increasing from $767 million in 2004–05 to $1.88 billion in 2014–15 (figure 4). Over this period the average growth rate was 9.4 per cent per annum.
The average income across the top 500 corporations in 2014–15 was $3.76 million, up from $3.48 million in 2013–14.
Geographic share of the overall income
Figure 5: Geographic share of overall income generated by the top 500 corporations, 2014–15
Figure 5 shows in 2014–15 that the Northern Territory and Western Australia accounted for 72.9 per cent of the overall income of the top 500 corporations. This was an increase of 0.6 per cent from 2013–14 (72.3 per cent).
The percentage share of income for each jurisdiction remained steady compared to 2013–14, with the Australian Capital Territory not changing its percentage share and all other states/territories changing each of their shares by less than 1.0 per cent. Northern Territory experienced the greatest increase in its share of the overall income (0.9 per cent) and Queensland the greatest decrease (0.8 per cent).
Variances in income
Table 2: Income and assets of the top 500 corporations ranked highest and lowest, 2014–15
|Ranking of corporation||Income||Assets|
There was a significant difference between the income and assets of the corporation ranked first and the corporation ranked number 500 (table 2). The top ranked corporation generated $88,873,326 during 2014–15, which is 286 times more than the $310,976 earned by the corporation ranked at number 500.
The income of the highest ranked corporation is considerably higher (34.5 per cent higher) in 2014–15 than it was in 2013–14 ($66,089,202). The income of the lowest ranked corporation increased from $291,886 in 2013–14 to $310,716 in 2014–15 (6.5 per cent higher).
In this year’s report the highest ranked corporation jumped from third to first position. Its income has steadily grown in recent years with a significant rise in the past year. (The income history of the corporation ranked highest in 2014–15 is as follows: 2011–12 $44,759,708; 2012–13 $47,081,917; 2013–14 $59,648,789; 2014–15 $88,873,326.)
A total of 150 of the 500 corporations improved their ranking since 2013–14 and 293 decreased their ranking. Eleven corporations did not move while there were 46 new entries onto the list, which means there were also 46 departures—see the appendix for further details.
Of the 46 new entries:
- 28 increased their income bringing them into the top 500 range
- six were omitted from the 2013–14 ranking because they lodged their 2013–14 reports after the top 500 report was prepared
- 12 were new registrations, with seven of these constituting transfers of existing entities from other incorporation legislation.
Of the 46 departures, 13 corporations (28.3 per cent) dropped out because they had not lodged their 2014–15 financial statements by the time this top 500 report was prepared—this was because either the corporations sought an extension of time to report or they were simply late.
Eight of the top 10 corporations for 2013–14 remained in the top 10 for 2014–15. Last year’s highest ranked corporation fell to number 15 on the list (due to the fact that its income fell from $66 million to $18.9 million).
Income, assets and equity
In this section ‘total assets’ refers to current and non-current assets combined, as reported by corporations. Also, ‘total equity’ is calculated as:
total equity = total assets - total liabilities.
Figure 6: Combined total income, total assets and total equity, 2004–05 to 2014–15
The total income, assets and equity of the top 500 corporations have consistently increased since 2004–05, except for a slight drop in income in 2009–10 (figure 6).
Although total income has risen significantly over the decade, from $767 million to $1.88 billion, the rate of average yearly growth for income (9.4 per cent) was less than the rate of growth for total assets and total equity (these rates were equal at 12.0 per cent).
Table 3: Total income, total assets and total equity for the top 500 corporations by state/territory, 2014–15
|State/territory||Total income||Total assets||Total equity|
Figure 7: Total income, total assets and total equity for the top 500 corporations by state/territory, 2014–15
The bulk of the income, assets and equity are shared by two jurisdictions: Northern Territory and Western Australia (figure 7).
Figure 8: Movements in average income of the top 500 corporations by state/territory, 2004–05 to 2014–15
Figure 8 shows that over the past 11 financial years all jurisdictions experienced an overall increase in income, but other patterns also emerged. For example:
- The corporations in the top 500 in three jurisdictions (Northern Territory, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory) have experienced yearly increases in average income over the past four years (2011–12 to 2014–15).
- Compared to 2013–14 the average income fell in only two jurisdictions—Victoria and Western Australia. The average income for Victoria dropped from $2,547,690 to $2,448,208 (a decrease of 3.9 per cent) and for Western Australia it dropped from $4,277,087 to $4,255,671 (a decrease of 0.5 per cent).
- New South Wales experienced the greatest percentage increase in 2014–15 from the previous year, rising 22.7 per cent (from an average of $2,379,289 to $2,920,221). The average income for New South Wales has steadily increased since 2009–10.
- The Northern Territory consistently maintained the highest average income earned by the top 500 corporations over the past 11 financial years. In 2014–15 it broke the $5 million mark and is the first jurisdiction to ever do so.
- The Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania earned the lowest average income over the past 11 years.
- The average income in Western Australia grew slowly from 2004–05 to 2008–09. After a small dip in 2009–10, there was a significant rise—almost doubling—for the following two years. From 2011–12 the average income in Western Australia has been sustained at the higher level but then somewhat flattened off, and most recently it showed a small decline.
- Not one jurisdiction posted an increase in average income every single year over the 11 year period.
- In 2014–15 the average income from the highest to lowest jurisdiction differed by almost $4 million. The Australian Capital Territory was the lowest at $1,150,841 while the Northern Territory was the highest at $5,041,508.
Figure 9: Annual average growth rate for the top 500 corporations by state/territory, 2004–05 to 2014–15
Figure 9 shows South Australia had an average annual growth rate of 2.0 per cent for the last decade. This was much lower than all other jurisdictions. Five of the other jurisdictions had average rates ranging from 8.6 per cent to 10.0 per cent (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia).
Average income by region
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet aligns its network of staff supporting Indigenous affairs using a model of 12 regional areas to provide support closer to the communities it serves.  The top 500 corporations have been aligned with the network.
Table 4: Average income of the top 500 corporations by region, 2014–15
|Region||No. of corporations||Average 2014–15 income per corporation||Percentage increase/decrease in average income from 2013–14 to 2014–15|
|Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt||25||$7,437,806||7.1%|
|Top End and Tiwi Islands||53||$5,204,987||17.1%|
|Greater Western Australia||61||$4,631,555||-4.8%|
|Western New South Wales||15||$3,412,549||22.5%|
|Eastern New South Wales||52||$2,757,745||19.8%|
|Victoria and Tasmania||22||$2,240,032||-2.7%|
|Far North Queensland||43||$2,226,235||11.9%|
|Gulf and North Queensland||20||$1,641,145||-13.5%|
Table 4 shows Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt remained the region with the highest average income in 2014–15.
Figure 10: Change in average income of the top 500 corporations by region, from 2013–14 to 2014–15
Figure 10 shows nine regions increased their average income from 2013–14 to 2014–15 while three regions decreased. The Gulf and North Queensland region had the largest decrease in average income, 13.5 per cent.
In 2013–14 the South Australia region had a percentage decrease in average income of 13.8 per cent. Conversely in 2014–15 it had a percentage increase of 19.1 per cent.
Over the past decade the Australian resources and energy sectors have experienced significant change, starting with the resources boom in the mid-2000s and continuing more recently with deteriorating export markets. In September 2011, Australia’s terms of trade reached their highest level in 140 years.  The investment phase peaked in 2011, but since then the number of new exploration and capital expenditure projects has fallen substantially. 
Although iron ore resources can be found in all Australian states/territories, almost 90 per cent of identified resources occur in Western Australia, including almost 80 per cent in the Hamersley region in the Pilbara. It is one of the world’s major iron ore provinces.   
In 2014–15 Western Australia contributed 98.3 per cent of the production of iron ore in Australia. 
There are 23 corporations in the top 500 that are based in the Pilbara, which is part of the Greater Western Australia region.
Figure 11: Average income of Pilbara-based corporations in the top 500 compared with average income of all the top 500 corporations, 2007–08 to 2014–15
Figure 11 suggests corporations located in the Pilbara have significantly benefited from the mining boom. In 2007–08 the average income of Pilbara-based corporations was virtually identical to the average national income of the top 500 corporations. However, from 2008–09 to 2013–14, Pilbara-based corporations consistently increased their income relative to the national average. The peak occurred in 2013–14.
In 2015 many iron ore producers announced cuts to employee numbers and service contracts. This has had an expected impact on Aboriginal corporations in the Pilbara. In 2014–15 the average income of Pilbara-based corporations decreased by $1.18 million compared to 2013–14 (from $8.99 million to $7.81 million), whereas the average income of the top 500 corporations increased by $284,751 (from $3.48 million to $3.76 million).
While the challenging market conditions are expected to continue for the next few years, the outlook is still optimistic for a modest increase in resources exports for the medium to long term. Australia’s Chief Economist, Mark Cully, has said, ‘a legacy of the investment phase of the commodity boom is the increased productive capacity of iron ore and LNG [liquid natural gas], which is now translating into additional supply for these commodities.’ 
Although there was a noticeable decline in average income for the last year it remains a fact that, on average, corporations in the Pilbara still had a higher income compared to other corporations across the whole of Australia.
The average income in 2014–15 of the Pilbara-based top 500 corporations remained at just over double the average income of all the top 500 corporations ($7.81 million compared to $3.76 million) and still above the best performing region, Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt, which had an average income of $7.44 million.
Despite a drop in average income the combined total income for the Pilbara rose from $170.7 million in 2013–14 (19 corporations) to $179.6 million in 2014–15 (23 corporations), an increase of 5.2 per cent
or $8.9 million. This anomaly is explained by an increase in the number of Pilbara corporations in the top 500.
Figure 12: Percentage change in average income of Pilbara-based corporations in the top 500 compared with all the top 500 corporations, 2008–09 to 2014–15
The annual percentage changes for corporations in the Pilbara have been far more erratic and intense when compared to the top 500 as a whole—see figure 12.
The trend in average income percentage changes for Pilbara-based corporations has been downward, as expected, since 2012–13.
Some caution should be exercised when referencing profitability. The vast majority of the top 500 corporations are not-for-profit corporations so this report focuses largely on income. Profit or surplus cannot be taken as an accurate measure of the performance of a not-for-profit because the objective of such corporations is quite different. Their aim is not to generate profit or wealth but to use their resources to the maximum to further their not-for-profit purposes. The more income that a not-for-profit generates, the more resources it will devote to its not-for-profit purposes.
In this part of the report the terms ‘profit and loss’ include ‘surplus and deficit’ respectively for not-for-profit corporations.
Inclusion in the top 500 is based on income. Not all corporations in the top 500 make a profit.
Figure 13: Number of profit-making and loss-making corporations in the top 500, 2007–08 to 2014–15
In the past year the percentage of corporations reporting a profit increased with 60.2 per cent making a profit in 2014–15, up from 55.8 per cent in 2013–14 (figure 13). The increase in 2014–15 comes after four years of declining numbers of profit-making corporations.
Figure 14: Average profit for profit-making corporations and average loss for loss-making corporations in the top 500, 2007–08 to 2014–15
In 2014–15 the average loss for loss-making corporations and the average profit for profit-making corporations were greater than in any other previously reported years (figure 14).
Figure 15: Total combined profit and loss for the top 500 corporations, from 2007–08 to 2014–15
Figure 15 shows that the overall profitability of the top 500 corporations has fluctuated widely since 2007–08. This is a different pattern to the trend in overall income of the top 500 corporations, which has steadily increased over the same period (overall income is shown in figure 4).
As part of annual reporting under the CATSI Act, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations provide information on the sectors in which they operate.
Figure 16: Number of sectors in which the top 500 corporations operated, 2014–15
During 2014–15, 323 (64.6 per cent) of the top 500 corporations reported that they were active in one sector only (figure 16). This was 39 more corporations than in the previous financial year (figure 17). A total of 171 corporations operated in more than one sector. Of these, 151 corporations operated in two to six sectors—a decrease of 31 corporations from the previous financial year. One corporation identified that it operated in 16 different sectors. Six corporations did not report any sector at all.
Figure 17: Number of the top 500 corporations operating in one sector only, 2008–09 to 2014–15
Figure 18: Number of the top 500 corporations per sector, 2014–15
Figure 18 shows the ‘health and community services’ sector had 197 corporations. Even though the number dropped from 207 in 2013–14 down to 197 in 2014–15 (a decrease of 4.8 per cent) it continued to be the most common sector of corporation activity.
Compared to 2013–14, there were only slight changes in the number of corporations operating in all other sectors. The three sectors that showed the highest percentage growth within the top 500 corporations since the previous financial year were:
- mining—14.3 per cent increase (from seven to eight corporations)
- communication services—11.1 per cent increase (from 27 to 30 corporations)
- municipal services—5.0 per cent (from 40 to 42 corporations).
In last year’s report both the ‘manufacturing’ and ‘wholesale trade’ sectors showed the highest percentage growth within the top 500 at 25 per cent each.
In 2014–15 these sectors had the greatest percentage falls.
The sectors with the largest declines were:
- manufacturing—60 per cent decrease (from five to two corporations)
- wholesale trade—30 per cent decrease (from 10 to seven corporations)
- personal and other services—20.4 per cent decrease (from 54 to 43 corporations).
General reports submitted to the Registrar since 2007–08 contain information on the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees of each corporation. 
Figure 19: Total number of employees at the top 500 corporations, 2007–08 to 2014–15
The top 500 corporations reported that in 2014–15 they had 11,095 FTE employees. This represents a decrease of 626 employees (5.3 per cent) when compared to the previous financial year (figure 19).
Figure 20: Total number of employees and percentage share of the top 500 corporations by state/territory, 2014–15
Most people were employed by top 500 corporations in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, which constituted 61.9 per cent of all FTE employees (figure 20). In comparison to the previous year (63.8 per cent) this represents a small decline in their combined percentage share.
With a total of 4449 employees in 2014–15, the Northern Territory held a clear lead over all other jurisdictions in terms of the total number of FTE employees.
Figure 21: Comparison of percentage shares of total income and total employees for the top 500 corporations by state/territory, 2014–15
The two jurisdictions which generated the largest share of total income (Northern Territory and Western Australia) employ a smaller percentage of total FTE employees comparative to their share of total income (figure 21). This is consistent with the data from the previous financial year.
Figure 22: Change in the number of employees at the top 500 corporations by state/territory, 2013–14 to 2014–15
Figure 22 shows that, in the past year, four jurisdictions increased their FTE employee numbers—the Australian Capital Territory (four), New South Wales (34), Tasmania (39) and Victoria (53).
The key takeaway from the jurisdictional employment data is the loss of employment in the mining jurisdictions of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Western Australia saw the largest decrease in FTE employee numbers, dropping by 339—from 2759 employees to 2240 (figure 22). Its percentage share fell slightly from 23.5 per cent to 21.8 per cent (figure 20).
It was a similar story in the Northern Territory, with the number of FTE employees falling by 274—from 4723 to 4449—in the past year (figure 22). The Northern Territory also saw a small decline in its percentage share from 40.3 per cent to 40.1 per cent (figure 20).
In the previous top 500 report (based on corporation reports for 2013–14) the biggest change in FTE employee numbers was an increase by 40. Changes in 2014–15 were significantly larger.
Each year, corporations registered under the CATSI Act are required to provide the details of directors in their general reports, including their age, name and title—for instance, Dr, Mr, Mrs, Ms. This report has relied on directors’ titles and first names, as reported in general reports, to identify gender.
Table 5: Average number of directors per board in the top 500 corporations, 2008–09 to 2014–15
|Average number of directors||7.6||7.9||7.7||8.0||7.8||7.9||8.1|
At the time of reporting, four corporations in the top 500 were under special administration. In most cases when a special administrator is appointed, all director positions are vacated and the special administrator performs the role of the board. As a result these four corporations reported zero directors for 2014–15 and have therefore been excluded from the analysis to determine the ‘average number of directors per board’.
In 2014–15 there was a total of 4017 director positions in the top 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations. This represents an average of 8.1 directors per corporation. Since the publication of the first top 500 report, the average number of directors per corporation has remained consistently within the 7.6 to 8.1 range (table 5).
The smallest individual board had three directors and the largest had 57 directors. A greater number of corporations (325) had fewer directors than the average while 171 had a number above the average.
Figure 23: Gender of directors for the top 500 corporations, 2014–15
The gender of 66 directors (1.6 per cent) could not be determined as some corporations did not indicate gender-specific titles (for example Mr, Mrs, Ms) and the first names of their directors were also gender neutral (figure 23).
Excluding directors whose gender was not specified, the breakdown of male and female directorships was 47.2 per cent male compared to 52.8 per cent female. This is virtually unchanged from the previous financial year when there were 46.5 per cent male directors to 53.5 per cent female directors.
Strong female representation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation boards is not new. Since the Registrar began to document the gender split of directors through the top 500 reports, women have always been in the majority on boards. However, the representation of females has declined very slightly over the years (54.4 per cent in 2012–13; 53.5 per cent in 2013–14; and 52.8 per cent in 2014–15).
There were 19 all-male boards and 39 all-female boards. To some extent this may be explained by corporations choosing member/client representational models that reflect the business and objectives of the corporations. For example, a women’s centre is more than likely to have an all-female board.
Figure 24: Representation of women on boards, some comparisons 
Figure 24 compares female representation on boards in a range of sectors. The female representation on boards of the top 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations (52.8 per cent) slipped below that of non-executive directors  in the not-for-profit community sector (53.5 per cent). However, the percentage was still considerably higher than for companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange ASX 200 (figure 24).
Sources of income
This section examines the various sources of income for corporations registered under the CATSI Act. Information gathered from audited financial statements submitted between 2007–08 and 2014–15 by the top 20 corporations is provided in table 6 and figure 25. The total income of individual corporations in the top 20 in 2014–15 ranged from $16.4 million to $88.9 million. As a combined group their income amounted to $586,488,630.
Table 6: Sources of income of the top 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations, 2007–08 to 2014–15
|Financial year||Government funding ||Self-generated income||Other income sources ||Philanthropic gifts|
|2007–08||$154,196,133 (46.9%)||$125,770,971 (38.2%)||$48,971,244 (14.9%)||$23,130
|2008–09||$161,122,873 (44.5%)||$129,839,392 (38.8%)||$71,509,524 (19.7%)||
|2009–10||$176,523,678 (45.8%)||$150,516,053 (39.0%)||$58,444,430 (15.2%)||$2600
|2010–11||$184,974,330 (38.2%)||$191,974,080 (39.6%)||$107,520,775 (22.2%)||$17,091
|2011–12||$210,945,564 (39.9%)||$210,627,891 (39.8%)||$107,417,202 (20.3%)||$0
|2012–13||$215,438,385 (36.9%)||$233,573,905 (40.1%)||$133,925,459 (23.0%)||$350
|2013–14||$233,974,306 (39.5%)||$265,904,656 (44.8%)||$93,026,778 (15.7%)||$0
|2014–15||$230,537,009 (39.3%)||$252,172,318 (43.0%)||$102,279,303 (17.4%)||$1,500,000 (0.3%)|
Government funding to the top 20 corporations has remained relatively steady since 2013–14, falling by just 0.2 per cent (from 39.5 per cent to 39.3 per cent)—see table 6. The share of self-generated income also decreased from 44.8 per cent to 43.0 per cent.
The proportion of government funding relative to other sources of income combined has decreased by 7.6 per cent over the previous eight financial years.
One corporation reported gift revenue of $1.5 million during 2014–15 which was well above the total of donations or gifts for all top 20 corporations reported in the past seven years.
Figure 25: Funding sources of the top 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations, 2007–08 to 2014–15
Several trends were apparent when reviewing the sources of corporation income over the past eight financial years.
- There was a general upward trend in government funding and self-generated income.
- Both government funding and self-generated income increased every single year until 2014–15 when both categories declined.
- The amount of self-generated income has steadily taken over from government-derived income as the leading source of income.
- Income received from ‘other income sources’ showed a more erratic pattern over time as this funding source consists largely of mining royalties and compensation payments made under land use agreements, which can often be large one-off payments. The peak appears in 2012–13 at a time of significant investment activity related to the mining boom.
- For seven years the income generated from philanthropic gifts remained less than 0.1 per cent of total income. A single corporation received gift income in 2014–15, representing 0.3 per cent of total income for the top 20.
More on government funding
The top 20 corporations have a range of different income models. They include corporations that almost exclusively deliver government services and programs, and those that derive their income from other sources.
Government funding for six corporations in the top 20 was in excess of 84 per cent of their total income (four corporations had government funding greater than 90 per cent). This suggests their business activities focused heavily on delivering services or programs on behalf of government. All six of these corporations operate in the health and community services sector. Each of these corporations had in excess of 100 FTE employees, with a single corporation reporting 307 FTE employees.
Another six corporations in the top 20 received government funding of less than 10 per cent of their total income. Two of these corporations received nil government funding during 2014–15 (both were located in the Pilbara region).
Other observations on the top 20 corporations
All bar one corporation in the top 20 reported their main place of business as in the Northern Territory (11) or Western Australia (eight). The other corporation was in New South Wales.
Ten corporations in the top 20 reported that they operated in one sector only.
The ‘health and community services’ sector was the most common sector in the top 20 with 13 corporations reporting that they operated in this sector. Six corporations reported they operated in the ‘construction’ sector.
The average board size of the top 20 corporations was 13.2 directors—higher than the average for the top 500 at 8.1 directors per board. The size of boards in the top 20 ranged from six to 27 directors. Two boards had an all-male composition, with all others comprised of a mix of genders.
Registered native title bodies corporate
When a determination recognising native title is made by the Federal Court, the Native Title Act 1993 requires traditional owners to establish a corporation to represent them and their interests. These organisations are prescribed for the purposes of the native title determination and referred to as prescribed bodies corporate (PBCs). Once a determination is made and registered on the National Native Title Register the corporation then becomes a registered native title body corporate (RNTBC). At that point the corporation’s registered name is changed to acknowledge that it is an RNTBC. However RNTBCs are still commonly referred to as PBCs.
An RNTBC has prescribed functions under the Native Title Act 1993 to:
hold, protect and manage determined native title in accordance with the objectives of the native title holding group
ensure certainty for governments and other parties interested in accessing or regulating native title land and waters by providing a legal entity to manage and conduct the affairs of the native title holders. 
The Native Title Act 1993 requires all RNTBCs to be incorporated under the CATSI Act.
Figure 26: RNTBC registrations
In recent years there has been a rapid increase in the number of native title determinations and therefore RNTBCs (figure 26). The graph however does not actually reflect the full number of native title determinations because some corporations are determined as the RNTBC for multiple native title determinations.
RNTBCs in the top 500 corporations
This section of the report compares the 144 RNTBCs registered as at 30 June 2015 (including those outside the top 500) with the top 500 corporations for the 2014–15 reporting period.
Figure 27: RNTBCs in the top 500 corporations, 2014–15
Twenty-nine RNTBCs appeared in the top 500 for 2014–15 (see figure 27). This is eight more RNTBCs in the top 500 than 2013–14.
Income of RNTBCs
In 2014–15 the combined income of all 144 RNTBCs was $112.0 million, which is almost double the reported income in 2013–14 ($57.5 million). Several RNTBCs received large sums reported as payments for native title compensation or Indigenous land use agreements.
Just over half, 54.2 per cent (78 of 144 corporations) of RNTBCs reported an income greater than zero for 2014–15. This is a small increase from 2013–14 when 52.7 per cent of RNTBCs reported an income greater than zero.
The remaining 45.8 per cent of RNTBCs reported nil income or were exempted from reporting in 2014–15 (61 reported nil income, three were not required to report and two were granted exemptions). It is worth noting that the Registrar has granted many exemptions from reporting requirements in an effort to reduce the reporting burden for small corporations whose sole purpose is land holding—that is, they have no other activity or income. These corporations are required to report on a three year cycle rather than every year. For many RNTBCs with this type of exemption their reporting year was in 2014–15. All of these corporations that lodged a report, reported an income of zero. In 2013–14 a slightly higher proportion, 47.3 per cent, reported nil income or were exempted.
Table 7: Comparison of total and average income for the top 500 corporations and all RNTBCs by state/territory, 2014–15
|State/territory||No. of top 500 corporations||Total combined income of top 500||
Average income of top 500
|No. of RNTBCs with income greater than zero||Total combined income
The average income for RNTBCs that did report an income in 2014–15 was $1,436,136 (table 7). This is a significant increase on the average in 2013–14, which was $844,905.
Table 8: Income and assets of RNTBCs ranked highest and lowest, 2014–15
|Ranking of RNTBC in the top 500||Income||Assets|
|Highest (ranked 8)||$26,334,775||$108,143,239|
|Lowest (not ranked)||$647||$48,647|
Table 8 shows the 2014–15 income and assets of RNTBCs with the highest income and lowest income greater than zero. Most corporations do not record native title interests as an asset in accounting terms in their balance sheet.
The rank of the highest ranking RNTBC has risen since last year. In 2013–14 the highest ranked RNTBC appeared at position 44, with an income of $8,453,248 and assets of $13,943,193.
Figure 28: Total combined income for the top 500 corporations and all RNTBCs by state/territory, 2014–15
There did not appear to be any direct relationship by state/territory between the number of RNTBCs, their combined income or the combined income of top 500 corporations (figure 28). This was the same for assets (table 9 and figure 29).
Table 9: Total assets for the top 500 corporations and all RNTBCs with assets greater than zero by state/territory, 2014–15
|State/territory||No. of top 500 corporations with assets greater than zero||Total combined assets of top 500||Average assets of top 500||No. of RNTBCs with assets greater than zero||Total combined assets of RNTBCs||Average assets of RNTBCs|
Figure 29: Total combined assets for the top 500 and RNTBCs by state/territory, 2014–15
As was the case for combined income (figure 28), there does not appear to be any direct relationship by state/territory between the total combined assets of corporations in the top 500 compared with RNTBCs (figure 29).
Employees of RNTBCs
Table 10: Total FTE employees within top 500 corporations and all RNTBCs by state/territory, 2014–15
|State/territory||No. of top 500 corporations with employees||No. of people employed by top 500||No. of RNTBCs with employees||No. of people employed by RNTBCs|
Table 10 shows that in 2014–15, 40 RNTBCs had a total of 273 FTE employees. This is six more RNTBCs and 38 more FTE employees than in 2013–14. There were still however 106 RNTBCs with no employees (or not required to report).
A total of 36 corporations in the top 500 reported nil employees, a further two corporations did not report a figure at all.
Figure 30: Percentage share of employees within RNTBCs by state/territory, 2014–15
Figure 30 shows that in 2014–15 almost half (47.6 per cent) of all FTE employees within RNTBCs were employed by RNTBCs in Western Australia. The next biggest shares were in Victoria with 24.5 per cent and Queensland with 22.3 per cent.
The percentage share of FTE employees in RNTBCs compared to the top 500 (figure 20) is remarkably different. For example, in Western Australia FTE employees within RNTBCs represent almost half (47.6 per cent) of all employees at RNTBCs, whereas for the top 500 that state holds only 21.8 per cent of the total FTE employees. Conversely, the majority share of FTE employees within the top 500 corporations are in Northern Territory (40.1 per cent) but this location has a very small share of FTE employees at RNTBCs (1.1 per cent). Table 10 shows the comparison by number of FTE employees.
Gender of directors in RNTBCs
In 2014–15 there were a total of 1215 director positions in RNTBCs.
The average number of directors at RNTBCs was 8.4, which was slightly higher than all corporations in the top 500 (8.1 directors per corporation).
The smallest board comprised three directors and the largest had 22 directors.
Figure 31: Gender of directors for RNTBCs, 2014–15
Excluding directors whose gender was not specified—the gender of 14 directors (1.2 per cent) could not be ascertained due to the corporation not reporting the person’s title and the gender ambiguity of the first name—the breakdown of male and female directorships of RNTBCs was 56.1 per cent male and 43.9 per cent female (figure 31).
This breakdown is the reverse of the gender representation in the top 500 corporations, with fewer females holding director positions in RNTBCs than in the top 500 corporations (see figure 25).
There were two boards of RNTBCs comprising all female directors and eight boards with all male directors. Of these, two boards (one board of each gender) were represented in the top 500.
WINNAM A WINNER IN SOCIAL SERVICE
It started 25 years ago on the back of a $100 donation. A group of concerned local Aboriginal volunteers got together to establish a corporation. The aim was to help provide affordable housing for the local community. A quarter of a century later, Winnam is a thriving concern with over $22 million in assets.
Brisbane, Queensland: ‘All of us already had our own homes and so it was upsetting to hear regular stories about community members having a hard time finding a place to rent. It just didn’t seem fair,’ said Winnam’s chairperson, Becky Thomson. ‘So we decided to do something about it. It was and never has been about us. It has always been about our community.’
Winnam Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Corporation provides mainly housing and aged-care services. Its clients are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all areas of the community and interstate but most come from the eastern Brisbane suburbs of Wynnum, Morningside and Bayside—part of Quandamooka country where the pandanus palm once grew in abundance.
In fact, Winnam takes its name from the Aboriginal word for pandanus palm.
The corporation’s motto ‘keeping our people together’ is well known to members and refers to Winnam’s connection to the community and to the bayside area. Its principal purpose is providing a network of support and a meeting place for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Winnam is a 100 per cent community-based, not-for-profit corporation. It uses all its income to extend or improve services for local people—or, put another way, in fully pursuing its objectives. This fact is reinforced in the corporation’s rule book which clearly states that neither members nor directors are permitted to receive any financial gain from the corporation.
Winnam’s 2014–15 financial reports indicate that it received $2.6 million in revenue and had only $66,389 left after meeting all of its expenses in providing services.
The corporation was incorporated in 1990 by local Aboriginal volunteers under the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976. Early in the piece the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission provided funding to purchase a few properties. These properties were, and still are, used to shelter vulnerable Indigenous people. Then as now, Winnam is a safe and trusted backstop for people in the community who face economic and social hardship, such as unstable employment, low income and discrimination from unscrupulous landlords.
Accommodation is offered to tenants at low rents which generate a very small income for the corporation. However, what comes in is well controlled and covers service costs and the upkeep of the properties—maintenance and repairs, rates, insurance and administration.
On the aged care side, the corporation has been funded for many years by the Queensland Department of Health and Ageing to manage the Georgina Margaret Davidson Thompson Hostel (known as Georgina Hostel) in Morningside. Although Georgina Hostel is open to everyone—Indigenous and non-Indigenous—it’s the only residential aged-care facility in Brisbane that caters specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Any funds it generates, such as through residency fees, are immediately funnelled back into the hostel’s administration and maintenance.
At an event four years ago, celebrating Winnam’s 21 years of dedicated service to aged care, the deeds to the hostel were handed over to the corporation—a large statement of trust.
But services provided by Winnam don’t stop at affordable housing and aged care. The corporation also runs all kinds of events for the community, including cultural activities for non-Indigenous people. In addition Winnam is for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the first place they contact for advice and support. They know they’ll receive guidance in any number of areas, from social justice issues to referrals for employment or accommodation.
And if that’s not enough Winnam runs an art shop too—to showcase local talent and to sell a variety of arts and crafts, from paintings and prints to boomerangs, didgeridoos and many other unique items.
‘I’m often asked what’s the secret to Winnam’s success and longevity,’ said Becky Thomson. ‘I have to say there is no secret but we have always had a strong and very good team at the helm, which has a lot to do with it.’
In all the years Winnam has been operating it has had only 30 directors.
Everyone at the corporation loves what they do and believes in the work. But the reality is it will soon be time to hand on to the next generation. ‘We’re entering a new phase now,’ said Becky. ‘We’re looking to bring younger people onto our board who no doubt will bring new ideas and innovations to the workings of the organisation.’
Change is embraced—just so that whoever follows truly understands Winnam’s vision and is strong in their heart.
‘It doesn’t matter how we work … what matters most is that we work together and never lose sight of the clients,’ said director Denise Adams. ‘Winnam is full of people quietly going about helping—that’s our job—helping—it just happens.’
That’s the Winnam way. It’s all about helping people and ‘keeping together’.
For more information www.winnamatsic.org.au
Table 11: Winnam rankings in the top 500
Note: In 2014–15 Winnam’s income appears to rise significantly. This rise is largely attributable to a revaluation of assets.
To aid comparison with previous years, in 2014–15 the corporation had $2,625,813 in revenue (grants, residents’ fees and rents, interest, art sales and so on). The other $5,301,988 of income is attributable to a revaluation of the corporation’s rental properties.
Winnam places great importance on reconciliation. It’s guiding future generations of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people to live together harmoniously and achieve positive changes.
 ibid, figures 2.13 and 2.14, p. 26.
 Geoscience Australia, Australian Atlas of mineral resources, mines and processing centres, Iron Fact Sheet, viewed 6 July 2016 <http://www.australianminesatlas.gov.au/education/fact_sheets/iron.html>.
 Western Australia has the largest share of iron ore with 89 per cent of Australia’s Economic Demonstrated Resources (EDR), the majority of which is in the Pilbara region. Accessible Economic Demonstrated Resources (AEDR) is the portion of total EDR that is accessible for mining.
Some mineral deposits are not currently accessible for mining because of government policies or various environmental and land access restrictions, such as location within national and state parks and conservation zones, military training areas or environmental protection areas, as well as areas over which mining approval has not been granted by traditional owners.
Britt, A., Summerfield, D., Whitaker, A., Kay, P., Champion, D., Huston, D., Senior, A., Sexton, M., Roberts, D., Wright, S. and Schofield, A. 2015. Australia’s Identified Mineral Resources 2015. Geoscience Australia, Canberra, p. 1, viewed 6 July 2016 <http://dx.doi.org/10.11636/1327-1466.2015>.
 Within Western Australia, the highest concentration of iron ore resources is in the Pilbara. Source: Jaireth, S., Summerfield, D. Australian In Situ Iron Ore Resources (Sheet 1: Hematite; Sheet 2: Magnetite), 2012, Geoscience Australia, Canberra, 2012, viewed 6 July 2016 <http://www.ga.gov.au/metadata-gateway/metadata/record/74858/>.
 Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Office of the Chief Economist 2016, Resources and Energy Quarterly, March, Statistical data-March-2016.xlsx, sheet 28, viewed 6 July 2016 < http://www.industry.gov.au/Office-of-the-Chief-Economist/Publications/Documents/req/Commodity-data-M....
 Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Office of the Chief Economist 2016, Resources and Energy Quarterly, March, p. 25.
 Corporations report on the number of employees they have in general reports. The formula used to determine the number is:
- count each full-time employee
- for each part-time employee, work out a fraction that represents their weekly hours of work. Do this by dividing the part-timer’s hours by the weekly hours of work of a full-time employee. For example, if a part-timer works eight hours a week, and your full-time employees work 38 hours: 8 divided by 38 = 0.21
- count the fraction for each part-time employee.
Note: Community Development Programme (CDP) participants are treated as employees for the purposes of these thresholds. Sources: Australian Institute of Company Directors 2015, Appointments to ASX 200 Boards, Statistics (30 June 2016), Australian Institute of Company Directors, viewed 12 July 2016 <http://www.companydirectors.com.au/director-resource-centre/governance-and-director-issues/board-div... Australian Government Office for Women 2015, Gender balance on Australian Government boards report 2014–15, Commonwealth of Australia, October, p. 2; YWCA Australia, the Australian Council of Social Service and Women on Boards 2012, Reflecting gender diversity: an analysis of gender diversity in the leadership of the community sector: inaugural survey results, September, figure 3, p. 13.
 The category of ‘non-executive directors’ was used here for comparison as this category refers to directors that are not employed as fulltime executives involved in the day-to-day management of the organisation; see definition of non-executive director at http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/non-executive-director.html#ixzz2TzYd7fS6. This fits with the profile of directors of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations as the vast majority do not act in executive roles. Only 11.9 per cent of corporations have provisions in their rule books to allow directors to be remunerated for services provided as directors. See the Registrar’s report: Remuneration—a report benchmarking the salaries of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations, March 2013, p. 9 at www.oric.gov.au. In addition, although 34.5 per cent of directors received remuneration in 2011–12, the view is that very few of those are paid in the capacity as an executive as only a small proportion received over $10,000 in remuneration during 2011–12 (see the remuneration report, figure 3, p.11).
 Government funding includes grants as well as other sources of government funding such as fuel tax credits.
 Other sources of revenue include, but are not limited to, mining royalties, native title compensation packages and distributions from trusts.
 Background information on RNTBCs sourced from Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies’ (AIATSIS) website <http://www.nativetitle.org.au/about.html>.