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
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.