About the CATSI Act

The Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) is the set of laws that establishes the Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations, now called the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, and allows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups to form corporations.

Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006

The Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (the CATSI Act) was passed by the Australian Parliament in October 2006. It began on 1 July 2007, replacing the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 (ACA Act). Under the CATSI Act, laws governing Indigenous corporations have been modernised while still retaining the special measures to meet the specific needs of Indigenous people.

Registration under the CATSI Act is mostly voluntary. However, some corporations—for example, ‘prescribed bodies corporate’ set up under the Native Title Act 1993—are required to register under the CATSI Act.

Obtaining copies of the CATSI Act

We do not publish copies of the CATSI Act, amendments or regulations. However, you can get a free copy of the legislation online or buy print copies.

Current determinations that amend CATSI legislation

There is currently one determination that affects the legislation. This determination provides an exemption to corporations who may be using an auditor or audit firm whose registration is not certain. 

Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976

The Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 was replaced by the CATSI Act on 1 July 2007.

In the 1960s and 1970s, various reviews advised the Australian Government of the need for legislation to make it easier for Indigenous communities and organisations to form corporations. The emergence of land rights emphasised the need for an alternative to complex and onerous laws and processes for incorporating, which were unsuited to many Indigenous people, particularly those living in remote areas.

As a result, the ACA Act was passed, allowing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups to form corporations for any social or economic purpose. Incorporation occurs when a group of individual members creates a body that is itself recognised as a person in law. This body then represents the members in accordance with its agreed constitution. Incorporation brings many entitlements, such as access to funds, and also brings many responsibilities for people associated with the corporation.

A comprehensive independent review of the ACA Act was completed in 2002. The review recommended some ways that the ACA Act could be made more consistent with the Corporations Act. This has been done in the new CATSI Act legislation. (See the final report of the review and the Senate inquiry)

Corporations Act 2001

The CATSI Act is not the only legislation that applies to corporations registered under the ACA Act. Another important Commonwealth law is the Corporations Act. Some parts of the Corporations Act apply to Indigenous corporations because the ACA Act says they should apply. Also some parts of the Corporations Act apply because of the broad definition of ‘corporation’ in section 57A of the Corporations Act.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) may regulate corporations where the Corporations Act applies. You can find out more about the Corporations Act by going to the ASIC website or the Corporations Act 2001.

Other laws for incorporation

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.