We provide a process for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations to register, and maintain a register of information and documentation to ensure transparency of their operations.

Provide pre-registration service

Pre-registration meetings with groups

ORIC staff often field queries from groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are thinking about incorporating, and wanting more information about their options. Some conversations occur over the phone; in other cases, an ORIC officer will meet with the group to discuss options and determine whether registering under the CATSI Act is appropriate in their circumstances. This pre-registration service is also available to groups that are incorporated under alternative legislation, and considering transferring their registration to the CATSI Act.

Pre-registration workshops with groups

A portion of the corporation-specific training that we run is to assist groups who are planning to incorporate for the first time, transfer their existing registration or amalgamate with another organisation. We provide information on the requirements and process, and help develop a constitution (rule book) that is consistent with the CATSI Act.

Draft rule books

ORIC recommends that corporations regularly review their rules to make sure directors and members can understand them, and the rules work well for their corporation’s changing circumstances. We provide a number of model rule books on our website, and offer assistance to corporations to create or revise their rule book. In many cases this service is combined with a pre-registration workshop mentioned above.

ORIC is sometimes called upon to help members and directors understand their rules, address complaints or disputes arising from disagreements on the application of rules. During the year ORIC also noted a substantial number of corporations that had not revised their rule book since the CATSI Act transition period ended in 2009.

In August 2016, we began an internal project to review all registered rule books to ensure they are compliant with the CATSI Act, internally consistent, and well-formatted for readability. As well as assuring the quality of existing rule books, it was an opportunity to make our template easier to use, and for staff to extend their skills. This project will continue into the next year.

Register corporations

At 30 June 2017 there were 2904 corporations registered under the CATSI Act. The year before there were 2781. That’s a net increase of 123 corporations (includes new incorporations, reinstatements and deregistrations); a growth of 4.4 per cent. Of those 2904, 172 (5.9 per cent) are registered native title bodies corporate (RNTBCs).

Figure 1: Registered and new corporations from 1990–91 to 2016–17

Line graph showing the steady increase in the number of registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations

Figure 2: Registered corporations by region as at 30 June 2017

Map of Australia showing the number of registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations for each region

Table 2: Number of registered corporations by state/territory, as at 30 June 2017
State/territory Corporations
Western Australia 777
Queensland 687
Northern Territory 664
New South Wales 516
South Australia 125
Victoria 95
Australian Capital Territory 22
Tasmania 18
TOTAL 2904

New registrations

During 2016–17 there were 177 new registrations—exactly the same number as the previous year. This figure includes 13 transfers of incorporation to the CATSI Act from other incorporation legislation and five reinstatements. The year before, 25 of the 177 registrations were transfers.

Table 3: Requests to incorporate from 2012–13 to 2016–17
Requests to incorporate 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17
Received 162 166 187 184 210
Actioned: 163 175 182 186 215
—approved 155 163 170 177 177
—refused 5 10 9 8 27
—lapsed/withdrawn 3 2 3 1 11


There were 54 deregistrations this year, compared with 84 corporations that were deregistered in 2015–16—a decrease of 35.7 per cent.

Register documents and changes

ORIC receives a range of information, forms and reports that need to be added to or require amendments to information on the Register of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations. In 2016−17 ORIC processed 5697 registration jobs.

The range of jobs requiring changes to the register includes:

  • change corporation name
  • change corporation address and/or other contact details
  • change directors, contact persons or secretaries
  • change rule book
  • lodge updated membership list
  • change native title status
  • lodge general, financial and directors reports.
Table 4: Sample of registration activity from 2012–13 to 2016–17
Requests to change rule book 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17
Received 163 213 200 207 268
Finalised: 163 226 198 209 264
—approved 153 216 182 190 249
—refused 10 10 16 19 15
Requests to change name
Received 17 22 10 12 17
Finalised: 19 23 12 13 16
—approved 17 23 12 12 16
—refused 2 0 0 1 0
Requests to change a corporation’s contact details, or details of directors, contact person or secretary
Received 821 852 860 1036 1308
Finalised:       1044 1317
—Change applied to the public register 812 852 852 1031 1284


  1. Some requests finalised during 2016–17 were initiated in the previous year.
  2. Where a request to change details for a contact person or other officer is not approved, usually the reason is that the person making the request is not authorised to change those details.
Figure 3: Requests to change corporation rule book

bar chart shoing the steady increase in numbers of requests to change a rule book

Figure 4: Requests to change corporation name

bar chart showing that requests to change a corporation's name dropped in 2014–15 but have increased steadily since then

Figure 5: Requests to change corporation contact details or details of contact person, secretary or director/s

bar chart showing significant increases in requests to change contact details for a corporation


The Registrar has the power to grant exemptions in relation to particular sections of the CATSI Act. The power enables the Registrar flexibility to meet the individual circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations. The Registrar’s policy statement PS-07: Exemptions provides more detail.

In 2016–17 ORIC processed 488 applications for exemptions from various provisions of the CATSI Act, such as extensions of time for holding the annual general meeting (AGM).

Table 5: Applications for exemptions for the last two years
Exemptions 2015–16 2016–17
Received 469 485
Finalised*: 468 488
—approved 438 467
—refused 30 21

Note: Some matters finalised were received in the previous financial year.

Lodgement of forms and reports online

ORIC provides forms for corporations to register and meet their reporting and other obligations under the CATSI Act. To optimise accuracy of the information and efficiency of the process, we encourage corporations to use ORIC’s secure system for online lodgement at When a corporation needs to lodge a report or update its details, an authorised representative can log in and their corporation’s registered information will pre-populate the relevant form. In that way they can easily revise their information and instantly lodge it with the Registrar. To ensure access for all, we still provide PDF versions of our forms, which corporations can download, print, complete, scan and return.

Each year we see a steady increase in the percentage of forms and reports submitted through the Registrar’s online lodgement system. This year:

  • for the first time in ORIC’s history, more than half (52 per cent) of all forms lodged were submitted online—that’s a 5 per cent increase from last year
  • 73.9 per cent of general reports were submitted online—7.4 per cent more than last year.

The rate of corporations’ compliance with their annual reporting obligations will be addressed later in this document. See ‘Promote timely lodgement of annual reports’ under 'Monitoring'.

Figure 6: Forms and reports lodged online from 2009–10 to 2016–17

bar chart showing the dramatic switch from hard copy to online lodgment in the last 8 years

Figure 7: General reports lodged online compared to hard copy from 2009–10 to 2016–17

bar chart showing that the overwhelming majority of general reports are now lodged online

Provide access to public registers

ORIC manages the Register of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations, and makes part of it—contact details and certain documents about each corporation such as financial reports and regulatory actions by ORIC—publicly accessible on the web. We also manage and publish online the Register of Disqualified Officers. Maintaining and providing access to these information resources is a highly valued service provided by ORIC.

In 2016–17 there were:

  • 91,180 website visits to search the public register—which is 4.5 per cent more than the previous year (87,271 sessions). Around half of all visitors to the ORIC website end up on a corporation search result page
  • 599 visits to the Register of Disqualified Officers.