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.
Registering under the CATSI Act
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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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.
Why choose CATSI?
The main benefits of registering under the CATSI Act are that:
- the members can choose, when they register the corporation, 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 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 reports
- profits of the corporation can be distributed to members if the rule book allows for this
- Indigenous corporations can access client assistance, support, and information and training programs, offered by the Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations.
See the steps to register a corporation under the CATSI Act.
Other laws for incorporation
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 listing 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.
You can also learn more about incorporation under these other laws by visiting their websites:
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: