Reasons for transferring
There are many reasons you may wish to transfer your existing organisation’s registration to a corporation registered under Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act):
- the CATSI Act would be more appropriate legislation
- there are other similar bodies incorporated under the CATSI Act
- the corporation's rule book can accommodate Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander customs and traditions
- it is free to register as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation and lodge forms, documents and reports—unlike other regulators that may charge a fee for these services
- in some cases, corporations may be exempted from lodging annual reports
- ORIC offers client assistance, support, information and other services at no cost to corporations—such as governance training, rule book design workshops, help to recruit senior staff, advertising jobs, finding independent directors, and legal help
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations can operate nationally—they are not limited to the state or territory in which they are registered
- when they register their corporation, members can choose not to be liable for debts of the corporation
- the corporation's profits can be distributed to members* if the rule book allows for this (*except for transfers of NSW associations)
- it is a requirement of the organisation’s funding conditions (see below) or state, territory or Commonwealth legislation, such as the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) or the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic)
- the CATSI Act ensures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander control by requiring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are always in the majority in a corporation.
Incorporation requirements in funding conditions
The Australian Government has a strong interest in the governance and accountability of organisations receiving government funding for the delivery of programs.
The Australian Government encourages all organisations providing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to incorporate under the relevant Commonwealth legislation.
From 1 July 2014, Indigenous organisations receiving grant funding of $500 000 or more in a single financial year administered by the Indigenous Affairs portfolio within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet are required to incorporate under the CATSI Act.
The incorporation requirements are included in the terms and conditions of funding agreements entered into from 1 July 2014.
ORIC does not charge fees for registering under the CATSI Act and can provide support for organisations to transfer their incorporation. However, organisations may wish to seek their own independent legal and financial advice when considering changes.
Existing organisations who are thinking about transferring their registration to the CATSI Act can access free independent legal assistance through LawHelp. LawHelp is a pro bono legal scheme offered through ORIC with the support of some of Australia's top lawyers and law firms.
ORIC has in recent years worked with the states and territories to ensure that associations and cooperatives are able to transfer to the CATSI Act. A number of jurisdictions have as a result amended their legislation or regulations.
All state and territory legislation for associations and cooperatives, and the Commonwealth Corporations Act 2001, now permit associations, cooperatives and companies to transfer their incorporation to the CATSI Act.
Transfer to CATSI guides
The transfer process is different in each jurisdiction.
ORIC has developed some guides to assist organisations with the process. The guides outline the basic steps to become a corporation under the CATSI Act. They include examples of a meeting notices and minutes, as well as forms from other regulators (where available).
New South Wales—associations registered under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 (NSW)
Transfer to CATSI guide (NSW) | Form: Application for registration (existing organisation) PDF | Rule book
Northern Territory—associations registered under the Associations Act (NT)
Transfer to CATSI guide (NT) | Form: Application for registration (existing organisation) PDF | Rule book
Victoria—associations registered under the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012 (Vic)
Transfer to CATSI guide (Vic) | Form: Application for registration (existing organisation) PDF | Rule book
Western Australia—associations registered under the Associations Incorporation Act 1987 (WA)
Transfer to CATSI guide (WA) | Form: Application for registration (existing organisation) PDF | Rule book
Cooperatives—please call or email ORIC to discuss your requirements.
If a guide for your organisation’s incorporating legislation is not listed above, you need more information or would like to talk about your organisation’s circumstances, call ORIC's freecall number 1800 622 431 (not free from mobiles) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For general information about the CATSI Act try our newsletter ORIC Oracle. We also have a range of fact sheets covering topics such as meetings, duties of directors, corporation size and reporting.