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The Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) is the law that establishes the role of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations and allows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups to form corporations.
The CATSI Act delivers modern corporate governance standards but still provides measures to suit the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Examples of this are the requirements for the majority of directors and the majority of members to be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This means corporations will always be owned and controlled by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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.
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).
Obtaining copies of the CATSI Act
We do not publish copies of the CATSI Act, amendments or regulations. You can download copies from the Australian Government's Federal Register of Legislation or buy print copies.
Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Consequential, Transitional and Other Measures Act 2006—helped corporations transfer to the CATSI Act
Corporations Amendment (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations) Act 2006—amends the Corporations Act, removing any contradictions or gaps between the two pieces of legislation
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.
The CATSI Regulations contain a range of machinery provisions necessary for the effective operation of the CATSI Act, as well as provisions dealing with certain substantive matters not dealt with in the CATSI Act. For example, setting out the detail of corporation reports.
The 2017 Regulations repealed the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Regulations 2007 on 1 October 2017, which were due to sunset on the same day. The 2017 Regulations reproduce the substance of the 2007 Regulations and incorporate legislative changes that have taken place over the past 10 years. The drafting style, for example section numbering, has changed.
Some parts of the Corporations Act apply to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations because the CATSI Act says they should apply or 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.
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.
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)