The Registrar’s functions include supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations to succeed and promoting good governance.

Provide corporate governance training

ORIC delivers corporate governance training to corporations that are either registered under the CATSI Act or planning to be. The training supports good governance and works to:

  • build knowledge and skills among the directors, staff and members who participate in the programs
  • increase the efficiency and accountability of directors and staff of corporations
  • ultimately, strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Training is delivered by ORIC staff and external contractors, most of whom are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Scheduled courses are listed on the ORIC website at with an online form to apply to participate. Customised training, which is adapted to the individual needs of corporations, is also available on request. The Registrar encourages directors, members and staff of corporations to apply for corporate governance training. The range of courses on offer in 2016–17 was:

  • Introduction to Corporate Governance (ICG)—a three-day workshop
  • Two-day Governance Workshop—a compressed form of the ICG
  • Certificate IV in Business (Governance)—delivered in four one-week blocks
  • corporation-specific training (CST)—tailored to the particular needs and circumstances of corporations that request training.

ORIC also offers other programs, such as a Diploma of Business (Governance) and Building Strong Stores, but these were not offered this year.

In 2016–17, ORIC delivered training to 943 participants from 260 corporations, continuing the steady increase since 2014–15. Ninety-two per cent of participants reported a significant increase in their understanding of corporate governance; the highest satisfaction rate since 2012–13.

Table 6: Participation in training from 2012–13 to 2016–17
  2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17
Number of participants 897 1015 886 865 943
Number of corporations 198 194 169 208 260
Participants that reported a significant or very significant increase in corporate governance knowledge 92.5% 91.1% 90.0% 88.2% 92.1%

bar chart showing that in the last few years more people and corporations have undertaken training in corporate governance

Figure 8: Participation in all training from 2012–13 to 2016–17

bar chart showing that most training participants are from Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland

Western Australia had the most workshops; Queensland had the most corporations involved in training; and the Northern Territory had the most participants.

Training locations

Every year as part of our annual planning for training activities we analyse a range of factors including:

  • attendance and retention of participants for previous training workshops
  • cost-effectiveness
  • demand/requests for training
  • emerging regulatory risks, priorities and issues.

This year, in response to our analysis, ORIC focused delivery of Introduction to Corporate Governance workshops in major urban locations and Two-day Governance workshops in regional and remote locations.

Figure 10: Locations of all training provided, 2016–17

map showing the locations of each type of corporate governance training provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations in 2016–17

Introduction to Corporate Governance

The Introduction to Corporate Governance (ICG) workshop opens a clear pathway to best-practice corporate governance. It introduces key concepts and principles and invites participants to apply the ideas and practices to their own corporations. The ICG is the pre-requisite for the Certificate IV in Business (Governance).

ORIC delivered six ICG workshops across Australia in 2016–17. A total of 169 people, representing 81 corporations, participated.

Table 7: Participation in ICG workshops 2016–17
Month Location Participants Corporations
July 2016 Adelaide, SA 37 16
October 2016 Darwin, NT 29 12
November 2016 Melbourne, Vic 18 9
December 2016 Brisbane, Qld 34 18
March 2017 Cairns, Qld 32 17
April 2017 Perth, WA 19 9
Total   169 81

Two-day Governance Workshop

We developed the Two-day Governance Workshop for corporations in remote regions, as well as members who are unable to leave home for an extended period. The program is a condensed form of the ICG. Generally, the workshops take place in community locations and are run by ORIC’s regional officers, with great sensitivity to cultural protocols and ways of learning.

Group of smiling Aboriginal people in front of a building

Participants in the Two-day Governance Workshop in Weipa, Queensland

Last year there were two trials of this training program. In 2016–17 ORIC delivered Two-day Governance Workshops in 11 regional and remote locations, as listed below.

Table 8: Two-day Governance Workshops in 2016–17
Month Location Participants Corporations
August 2016 Broome, WA 14 6
September 2016 Weipa, Qld 12 5
October 2016 Mt Isa, Qld 14 4
November 2016 Broken Hill, NSW 11 3
January 2017 Port Augusta, SA 25 7
February 2017 Alice Springs, NT 38 9
February 2017 Nhulunbuy, NT 16 3
March 2017 Bamaga, NT 20 12
March 2017 Kununurra, WA 26 5
June 2017 Horn Island, Qld 14 12
June 2017 Karratha, WA 21 7
Total   211 73
Figure 11: Two-day Governance Workshops by location

bar chart showing number of people and corporations in each location for two-day governance training

Certificate IV in Business (Governance)

Part of a national accredited training package, the Certificate IV in Business (Governance) is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who want to extend their corporate governance knowledge and management skills.

Aboriginal mother and daughter standing in front of flags holding graduation certificates

Linda and Emily Ford graduating with a Certificate IV in Business (Governance) in May 2017

In 2016–17 ORIC ran the certificate IV course in Canberra. For the first time, we had a mother-daughter team graduate. Linda Ford is a director of Twin Hill Aboriginal Corporation. Emily Ford is a member of the same corporation and looking to step up in the future to be a director of the family corporation or other corporations.

Linda Ford: ‘For me, it reaffirmed we were on the right track. For Emily, it meant she got to learn about the right way to do things. We both ended up with clearer ideas about good governance practice.’

In 2017, 15 people from five states and territories graduated from the Certificate IV in Business (Governance).

Corporation-specific training

Corporation-specific training (CST) workshops are usually held at a corporation’s premises or a central venue within a community. The training is conducted over one or two days and is adapted to meet a corporation’s needs. By definition the content of each workshop is cutomised covering topics from directors duties to financial management and running effective meetings. Workshops may focus on a single topic such as rule design and re-design or cover a broad range of topics, which often occurs in workshops after a special administration or part of a broader plan for corporation support and mentoring.

In 2016–17 ORIC delivered 72 CST workshops (an identical number to the year before) for:

  • 92 corporations
  • 548 participants.

Consistent with the year before, the governance topics most often requested and consequently delivered at the workshops were:

  • the roles and responsibilities of directors
  • the legal duties of directors
  • solvency.
Figure 12: CST workshops by state and territory

column chart showing the number of people and corporations involved in custom governance training workshops in each state and territory

Table 9: CST workshops, 2016–17
Month Location State Participants Corporations
July 2016 Canberra ACT 7 1
July 2016 Hervey Bay QLD 6 1
July 2016 Adelaide SA 11 1
July 2016 Thornlie WA 5 1
August 2016 Inverell NSW 7 1
August 2016 Casino NSW 5 1
August 2016 Woodburn NSW 7 1
August 2016 Port Macquarie NSW 12 1
August 2016 Mutitjulu NT 5 1
August 2016 Amanbidgi NT 15 2
August 2016 Yarralin NT 5 1
August 2016 Rockhampton QLD 7 1
August 2016 Cunnamulla QLD 6 2
August 2016 Djarindjin WA 4 1
September 2016 Grafton NSW 9 1
September 2016 Bathurst Island NT 13 1
September 2016 Borroloola NT 6 2
September 2016 Alice Springs NT 6 1
September 2016 Surat QLD 5 1
September 2016 Brisbane QLD 2 1
September 2016 Brisbane QLD 7 1
September 2016 Yarrabah QLD 3 1
September 2016 Underdale SA 11 1
October 2016 Singleton NSW 6 1
October 2016 Coffs Harbour NSW 8 1
October 2016 Haasts Bluff NT 2 1
October 2016 Normanton QLD 5 1
October 2016 Perth WA 8 1
October 2016 Kiwirrkurra WA 24 2
November 2016 Daly River NT 4 1
November 2016 Yuendumu NT 22 2
November 2016 Katherine NT 8 1
November 2016 Brisbane QLD 8 1
January 2017 Muswellbrook NSW 4 1
January 2017 Sydney NSW 4 1
January 2017 Derby WA 10 1
February 2017 Byron Bay NSW 15 1
February 2017 Coffs Harbour NSW 5 1
February 2017 Taree NSW 7 1
February 2017 Port Macquarie NSW 6 1
February 2017 Katherine NT 9 1
February 2017 Tennant Creek NT 8 1
February 2017 Alice Springs NT 5 1
February 2017 Gin Gin QLD 8 1
February 2017 Gladstone QLD 5 2
February 2017 Cosmo Newberry WA 10 2
March 2017 Sydney NSW 7 1
April 2017 Canberra ACT 6 1
April 2017 Griffith NSW 7 1
April 2017 Jabiru NT 7 1
April 2017 Melbourne VIC 15 1
April 2017 Halls Creek WA 12 3
April 2017 Halls Creek WA 7 1
April 2017 Doon Doon WA 8 1
April 2017 Tjuntjunjara WA 11 1
May 2017 Dubbo NSW 5 1
May 2017 Gunnedah NSW 4 1
May 2017 Arlparra NT 13 3
May 2017 Alice Springs NT 11 1
May 2017 Maryborough QLD 6 1
May 2017 Billiluna WA 6 2
May 2017 Mulan WA 6 1
May 2017 Ringer Soak WA 5 2
May 2017 Kalumburu WA 6 1
May 2017 Kalumburu WA 2 2
May 2017 Kununurra WA 6 4
June 2017 Armidale NSW 3 1
June 2017 Guyra NSW 8 1
June 2017 Standley Chasm NT 4 1
June 2017 Darnley Island QLD 10 4
June 2017 Preston VIC 8 1
June 2017 Menzies WA 10 1
Total     548 92

Average costs to deliver training

Table 10: Average costs to deliver training, 2016–17
Training type Average cost per participant
Introduction to Corporate Governance $1,298
Two-day Governance Workshop $130
Certificate IV/Diploma $10,135
Corporation-specific training $168

Qualitative evaluation

At the end of each training session we seek feedback from the participants, which we then use to improve the program and maintain its relevance to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. One of the questions we ask is: What did you like best?

Here’s a selection of responses from 2016–17.

Two-day Governance Workshop:

I now know what directors really do.

Participant in Kununurra

Active discussions, cross-fertilisation of ideas and attention to possible rule book conflicts. It was all excellent, well presented and well run.

Participant in Cairns

Introduction to Corporate Governance:

I appreciated the interaction, openness and honesty, reality, sharing of problems, and the trainers – compassionate and knowledgeable.

Participant in Mount Isa

Certificate IV in Business (Governance):

The training was respectful.

I liked the interaction with the rest of the group and hearing their stories of successes and struggles.

The teaching style and teacher were fantastic! Felt relaxed and confident studying.

Publish guidance

ORIC provides corporations and other interested people with a wealth of guidance on the CATSI Act and good governance, including information on starting and running a corporation; fact sheets; guides to legislation and reporting; newsletters; templates for rule books, membership application forms, directorships, meeting notices, minutes and resolutions. The guidance offers practical advice and tips on various topics. Materials are developed or revised in response to trends and issues in the sector identified through complaints about corporations, inquiries, examinations, training activities, local officer engagement, and common issues with lodgement of forms and other information.

Guidance is provided in both digital and printed formats. Printed material is most often distributed during face-to-face engagement with corporations where a discussion on a particular governance topic is reinforced with the published resource provided as a reference tool for the corporation to draw on later.

As a general indicator of demand for general information and guidance, during 2016–17 there were 168,238 sessions on the website by 77,722 users. On average users viewed 2.6 pages per session.

As part of reviewing ORIC’s effectiveness in administering the CATSI Act, KPMG conducted an online consultation with corporations and the general public. They found that 85 per cent of respondents had accessed ORIC educational materials and guides, and 97 per cent had found them useful (64 per cent indicated the guidance materials are very/extremely useful, while 33 per cent considered them moderately useful).

Fact sheets

ORIC currently has 20 titles in its core fact sheet series. We also provide a range of other information sheets that offer guidance on specific matters such as rules required for gift funds. These are often attached to other guidance resources such as model rule books.

Table 11: Ten most downloaded fact sheets from
Fact sheet title Total downloads Unique downloads
Duties of directors and other officers 1768 1365
A corporation's rule book: what you need to know 982 818
Meetings for directors 610 502
Corporation size and reporting 600 530
Meetings for members 582 476
Minutes of meetings 548 464
Special administrations—what members and directors should know 548 464
Special administrations—what funding agencies, creditors and employees should know 483 388
Complaints involving corporations 457 384
The CATSI Act and the Corporations Act—some differences 404 367

Policy statements

ORIC publishes policy statements to provide guidance on certain aspects of the CATSI Act or how the Registrar interprets it. In 2016–17 ORIC published the following new or significantly revised policy statements:

ORIC Oracle

We produce the ORIC Oracle newsletter for registered corporations as well as others interested in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations. Each newsletter shares good news stories and knowledge about the sector, and provides guidance on running an effective corporation. It’s published quarterly, online and in print. In 2016–17 the themes were as follows:

In the May 2017 issue ORIC ran an online survey which asked readers, ‘To better manage its money, what does your corporation need?’ Respondents to the survey indicated that the top three areas they needed most help with are:

  • financial advice e.g. on investment
  • budgeting/big-picture planning
  • policies and procedures for staff e.g. delegations.

You can see back issues—and subscribe to forthcoming issues—at


Dayna Lister speaking at a lecturn

Dayna Lister. Photo courtesy of APO NT Aboriginal Governance & Management Program

As part of contributing to public discussion and education about the CATSI Act, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations and the role of the Registrar and ORIC, staff and the Registrar make presentations and speak at relevant forums.

In October 2016 the Registrar presented in Darwin to the Australian Institute of Company Directors on the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations to the economy.

In March 2017 Dayna Lister, regional manager for Alice Springs, addressed the Aboriginal Governance & Management Program's 'Innovating to Succeed Forum' on how ORIC can support remote Aboriginal corporations, and the advantages of being registered under the CATSI Act.

In May 2017 the Registrar spoke at the Queensland native title representative body alliance meeting about the capacity of registered native title bodies corporate.

The Registrar attends and speaks regularly at the quarterly Prescribed Bodies Corporate Support Forum hosted by the National Native Title Tribunal about the regulation of registered native title bodies corporate.

Provide information and advice

Call centre and other inquiries

ORIC operates a call centre offering information and advice to corporations and others interested in the governance and regulation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations. Calls are free from fixed line phones. ORIC aims to immediately answer all calls recognising that many callers in remote or very remote regions have limited telephone access or mobile phone coverage and long wait times or a call back are not viable options. In 2016–17, only 38 calls from 8428 calls received (less than 0.5 per cent) that were presented during business hours were diverted to voice mail.

In previous years we have reported a single figure for the call centre. From this year we are reporting at a more granular level, to more clearly account for our performance. We have also changed the system we use to record calls. The mechanisms used to capture this data are different, which means this year’s data is not directly comparable to data from previous years.

In 2016–17, 8428 unique calls were made to the ORIC’s freecall number, 1800 622 431.

Table 12: Calls to 1800 622 431, 2016–17
Measure 2016–17
Total calls presented 8702
Less calls re-presented to a more active phone line 274
Total unique calls presented 8428
—Calls answered by an ORIC officer 8261
—Calls referred to voice mail during business hours 38
—Calls presented but caller hung up before speaking 67
—Calls received after hours 62

In 2016–17, ORIC finalised 5361 inquiries from corporations and the public including requests for information, support and referrals. The number of inquiries is up by 487 on the previous year (10 per cent more).

Table 13: Inquiries finalised by method of inquiry from 2015–16 to 2016–17
Inquiry method 2015–16 2016–17
By phone 3051 3364
In writing 1797 1892
In person 26 105
Total 4874 5361

Provide support services

Local support

ORIC’s regional officers spend a significant portion of their time visiting corporations in person, attending and supporting meetings, and delivering governance training workshops.

To align with PMC, ORIC has adopted the same network structure of 12 regions.

Table 14: ORIC’s offices supporting PMC network regions
ORIC offices PMC network region
Coffs Harbour, Brisbane and Cairns Eastern New South Wales
  Western New South Wales
  Far North Queensland
  Gulf and North Queensland

South Queensland

Alice Springs Central Australia
  South Australia
Darwin, Broome Top End and Tiwi Islands
  Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt
Kununurra* Kimberley
Perth Greater Western Australia
Canberra (national office) Victoria and Tasmania

* From February to August 2017 ORIC operated a temporary office in Kununurra. Outside this time the Kimberley region was supported by the Darwin and Broome offices.

In 2017–18 ORIC has committed to expanding its regional office network to include new offices in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands in South Australia and Thursday Island in the Torres Strait.


ORIC created LawHelp to provide access to pro bono legal assistance to:

  • not-for-profit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations
  • other entities seeking to transfer their registration to the CATSI Act.

Corporations can access a wide variety of legal assistance to deal with things such as tax issues, employment contracts and intellectual property rights.

When we receive an application for LawHelp, we review it for eligibility, then forward it to the independent LawHelp assessment panel for action. In 2016–17, ORIC received 20 LawHelp applications, in comparison to the 28 applications received the previous year. Of the 20 applications, 17 were approved by the LawHelp assessment panel and successfully referred to a participating law firm.

Ngaimpe Aboriginal Corporation has used LawHelp more than once.

Joe Coyte, CEO of The GlenWe have used LawHelp for some of our organisation’s most critical issues. Not only has the service enabled us to access quality and reliable legal advice (that we would not be able to afford otherwise), it has also enabled us to create relationships.

Earlier this year, ‘The Glen’ clients played the lawyers from LawHelp firm, Allens, in a game of touch footy at The Domain in the city. This was followed by everyone having conversations while sharing in something to eat and a soft drink overlooking Sydney Harbour.

Joe Coyte, chief executive officer of ‘The Glen’, an alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre for men run by Ngaimpe Aboriginal Corporation'

Figure 13: LawHelp applications received by state/territory, 2012–13 to 2016–17

column chart showing that the geographic spread of LawHelp applications is evening out

Note: There have been no applications from corporations in the Australian Capital Territory.

Figure 14: LawHelp applications received by subject, 2012–13 to 2016–17

column chart showing the areas for which corporations seek legal assistance

ORIC recruitment assistance

ORIC recruitment assistance (ORA) provides help and guidance through the process of recruiting to corporations to fill a senior position. It encourages best practice—and helps build capacity—by supporting corporations to follow a clearly defined process with established guidelines. The service is free to corporations (although they must meet their own advertising costs). Corporations also remain responsible for all decisions, including selecting the successful candidate and negotiating a suitable salary package.

In 2016–17 ORIC received a total of nine requests through ORA and of those, seven senior staff positions were filled.

Figure 15: Job assistance requests accepted through ORA and senior positions filled from 2012–13 to 2016–17

column chart showing that use of the ORA service has declined in the last few years

Note: The outcome of requests for recruitment activities is not always the position being filled—for example, some corporations withdraw from the recruitment activity part way through and some determine that there were no suitable applicants.

Ang-Gnarra Aboriginal Corporation of Laura (north Queensland) used ORA to recruit a general manager.

Bridget Centenera with directors of Ang-Gnarra Aboriginal Corporation

The ORA service helped us to move quickly through what can be an intimidating process. It allowed the board to focus on choosing the best person rather than worrying about the process.

It also helped us to manage the administration side of the work. Given the remoteness of our location, we had more applications than expected, and we found a very qualified person.

Corporations may not know it’s there but it’s a very approachable service. ORIC made the recruitment easy. They were very good at keeping the process moving; they were flexible and responsive to the corporation’s needs; and their draft documents were easy to follow.

Bridget Centenera from Many Rivers, a not-for-profit community and economic development agency that supported Ang-Gnarra Aboriginal Corporation during their recruitment of a general manager.

Corporation jobs

From 2009 ORIC has offered corporations the chance to advertise their employment vacancies free of charge on the ORIC website. Since then, 407 corporation jobs have been advertised.

In 2016–17, Corporation jobs advertised 40 job vacancies.

Figure 16: Corporation jobs advertised on the ORIC website by state/territory, 2012–13 to 2016–17

column chart showing the geographic spread of advertisements for jobs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations

In recognition that not all corporations take up the offer to advertise on the ORIC website, and to add value to the Corporation jobs page, we added a link to ‘related vacancies’ (in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations) on the EthicalJobs website.


In the first full year of its operation, with minimalist marketing, Independentdirectory had modest uptake:

  • 45 individuals registered as candidates for directorship positions
  • 27 corporations set up an account to advertise a directorship or other position
  • 18 directorships were advertised.

Corporation users of the directory site can post their own jobs that flow through to Corporation jobs section of Five staff positions were advertised this way.

Through the course of the year we made changes in response to user feedback—for example, we simplified the geographical matching.