There are advantages to an Indigenous group in becoming a corporation. ORIC provides help in this process. However, organisations don’t have to be incorporated with ORIC. Depending on their circumstances, they can be registered with other agencies. Options for incorporation are discussed below.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations can apply to be registered with ORIC under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act). The laws about incorporation under the CATSI Act were written to meet their needs.
One of the central features of a corporation registered under the CATSI Act is that it is incorporated, which means that it is a distinct legal entity. That legal entity is created when the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations processes an application by a group wishing to become incorporated and registers the corporation name on the Register of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations.
The main benefits of registering under the CATSI Act are that:
- when they register, the members can choose not to be liable for debts of the corporation
- the corporation's rule book can accommodate 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 in which they are registered
- it is free to register as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation—unlike alternative regimes that may charge a fee
- in some cases, corporations may be exempted from annual reporting
- the corporation's profits can be distributed to members—if the rule book allows for that
- registered corporations can access ORIC's advice and support, and services—such as to:
See the steps to register a corporation under the CATSI Act.
Corporations and associations
Indigenous organisations don’t have to be incorporated with ORIC. For example, many are incorporated under the Northern Territory Associations Act 2003 and are listed on the Northern Territory Associations Registry. Indigenous organisations can also incorporate under the Corporations Act 2001—which is managed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
ORIC has prepared a table comparing key features of the different Commonwealth, state and territory incorporation laws and highlights the benefits of incorporating under the CATSI Act. This table will help you learn more about which laws might suit your organisation best. The table was prepared in 2008 and is available for download as a PDF (106kb) or as a Word document (206kb).
You can also learn more about incorporation under these other laws by visiting their websites:
- Australian Securities Investments Commission
- Australian Capital Territory Office of Regulatory Services—Associations
- Consumer Affairs Victoria—Incorporated associations
- New South Wales Fair Trading—Associations
- Northern Territory Department of Business—Incorporated associations
- Queensland Office of Fair Trading—Associations
- South Australian Consumer and Business Services—Incorporated associations
- Tasmanian Department of Justice, Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading—Incorporated associations
- Western Australian Department of Commerce—Associations
An Indigenous organisation might also choose to form a cooperative. A cooperative is type of organisation which exists for the benefit of its members. You can learn more about forming a cooperative under state or territory laws by following the links to other websites below:
- Australian Capital Territory Cooperatives Act 2002
- Consumer Affairs Victoria—Co-operatives
- New South Wales Fair Trading—Co-operatives
- Northern Territory Co-operatives Act and Regulations
- Queensland Office of Fair Trading—Cooperatives
- South Australian Consumer and Business Services—Co-operatives
- Tasmanian Department of Justice, Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading—Co-operatives
- Western Australian Department of Commerce—Co-operatives