ORIC yearbook 2014–15: Performance reporting | Reporting and registration

See ORIC yearbook 2014–15 table of contents

Reporting and registration

Corporation reporting compliance

Corporations registered under the CATSI Act must submit their annual reports to ORIC within six months after their financial year ends. Reports for the 2013–14 financial year had to be lodged by most corporations by 31 December 2014.

Reporting requirements vary according to registered size—large, medium or small—and income.

In 2014–15 the highest number of corporations in ORIC’s history lodged their reports. From a total of 2400 [1] corporations required to submit reports, 2335 complied with their obligations under the CATSI Act.

In percentage terms, reporting compliance rose from 95.7 per cent last year to 97.3 per cent this year.

This is the sixth consecutive year that the Registrar’s target of 90 per cent reporting compliance has been exceeded.

Of the reports lodged, 59.3 per cent were submitted through the Registrar’s online lodgment system.

Figure 2: Reporting compliance from 2001–02 to 2013–14

[1] The number of corporations required to provide 2013–14 reports was 2400. This number is different to the total number of registered corporations (2688 at 30 June 2015) as it is based on corporations registered at 31 December 2013 and excludes corporations under liquidation or being deregistered.

High compliance rates mean that members, communities, creditors and government agencies can have greater confidence in the information maintained by the Registrar on the public Register of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations.

As at 30 June 2015 there were 141 registered native title bodies corporate (RNTBCs) registered under the CATSI Act.[2] Of these 131 were required to report for the 2013–14 financial year and all were compliant.

Table 2: Reporting compliance for RNTBCs from 2012–13 to 2013–14
Reporting period Total number registered Number required to report Number compliant Percentage compliant
2013–14 141 131 131 100.0%
2012–13 132 108 106 98.1%

In what’s become an annual cycle of communication and support to maintain high reporting compliance rates, ORIC carried out the following activities:

  • A communication strategy to remind corporations of their reporting obligations and to offer guidance including:
    • advertisements in national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander newspapers
    • notices and messages on the ORIC website
    • reminders in ORIC publications
    • direct communication by email, letter and telephone.
  • Follow-up of key groups and specific sectors, such as RNTBCs and corporations helped by large corporations operating in remote regions.
  • Face-to-face visits by ORIC regional officers, particularly to corporations in remote locations and outside metropolitan areas. They offered personal assistance in completing reports as well as helped to develop capacity for the future.
  • Telephone reminders to newly registered corporations reporting for the first time and to corporations that were late to lodge in the previous year.
  • Telephone outreach to corporations in breach—ORIC staff identified corporations that failed to submit their annual reports by the due date and, where appropriate, offered help to complete them.
  • Formal warning notices were sent to corporations that were in breach and failed to respond to reminders.


[2] RNTBCs are the corporations recognised by the Federal Court under the Native Title Act 1993 to hold and represent the native title interests of a particular group of people. They must be registered under the CATSI Act.

Table 3: Reporting compliance by region as at 30 June 2015
PM&C regional network ORIC offices Number of corporations required to report Number of corporations compliant Percentage of corporations compliant
Central Australia Alice Springs 328 324 98.78%
South Australia Alice Springs 110 108 98.18%
Eastern New South Wales Coffs Harbour and Cairns 314 299 95.22%
Far North Queensland Coffs Harbour and Cairns 256 250 97.66%
Gulf and North Queensland Coffs Harbour and Cairns 101 95 94.06%
South Queensland Coffs Harbour and Cairns 175 165 94.29%
Western New South Wales Coffs Harbour and Cairns 88 87 98.86%
Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt Darwin and Broome 55 54 98.18%
Kimberley Darwin and Broome 361 351 97.23%
Top End and Tiwi Islands Darwin and Broome 183 183 100.00%
Victoria and Tasmania National office 96 93 96.91%
Greater Western Australia Perth 333 326 97.90%
Total   2400 2335 97.29%

Note: On 2 March 2015 ORIC adopted a new model of 12 regions across Australia.

Figure 3: Reporting compliance by region as at 30 June 2015

Reporting compliance by region as at 30 June 2015

Consequences of not reporting

Corporations that don’t lodge reports by the reporting deadline may face prosecution. For most corporations this deadline is 31 December. During 2014–15, a total of 16 corporations were prosecuted for failing to lodge their 2013–14 reports. (see p. 41.)

The maximum penalty for each 2013–14 report not lodged was $21,250 for corporations.

The Registrar may deregister corporations that remain in longstanding

Guidance about unexpended grants reporting

In August 2014 the Registrar issued guidance to auditors and corporations regarding the accounting treatment of unexpended grants. In recent years the Registrar has been concerned that some accounting treatments of unexpended government grants had resulted in mis-statements of the true financial positions of some corporations.

The accounting standards allow for auditors to apply a range of methods to present unexpended grants in a corporation’s financial statement. The Registrar’s guidance steers auditors to a preferred method to reduce the risk of future mis-statements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations funded by government.

The Registrar’s preferred method under AASB 1004 is that any unspent component of a grant or funding should be recognised as a deferred income component (i.e. a liability) in the corporation’s balance sheet.

More information on the Registrar’s preferred accounting treatment of government grants or funding may be found in the Corporation reporting guide at www.oric.gov.au

Increasing the pool of eligible accountants

On 3 November 2014 the Australian Government amended the CATSI Regulations to make it possible for members and fellows of the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) to audit the financial reports of certain small and medium-size corporations.

The amendment brought the CATSI Regulations in line with other Commonwealth legislation which already recognise the IPA. It has also increased the pool of accountants who are eligible to audit financial reports for the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations.

A new paragraph has been inserted at subregulation 333-16.02(3) to give effect to the changes.

The Registrar initiated the amendment in order to give corporations greater choice for auditing services, particularly in remote and regional areas. The change, which was welcomed by the CEO of the IPA, Andrew Conway, should also lead to reduced auditing costs.

Nigel Scullion, sitting at a table signing the amendment to the CATSI Regulations in the Registrar’s office. Anthony Beven standing next to Nigel Scullion watching him sign the document.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon. Nigel Scullion, signing the amendment to the CATSI Regulations in the Registrar’s office (22 Oct 2015).

Registration services

In 2014–15:

  • 170 new corporations registered under the CATSI Act, representing a slight increase from the 163 corporations that registered last year. This included 11 transfers of incorporation to the CATSI Act from other incorporation legislation.
  • 78 corporations were deregistered.
  • 182 requests for rule book changes were approved, representing a 15.7 per cent decrease from the 216 rule book changes approved last year.
  • 852 ‘notification of a change to corporation officers’ details’ and ‘notification of a change to corporation address and/or contact details’ forms were processed and changes made to the public Register of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations.
  • 471 annual general meeting (AGM) extensions and exemptions were granted by the Registrar (an increase from 379 granted last year).
  • 1950 written inquiries from corporations were finalised. These included inquiries about registration assistance, requests for information and support, and referrals.

ORIC provides a range of registration services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups and corporations.

In 2014−15 ORIC received 8669 documents (including written inquiries) from corporations and the public—down from 8947 documents in the previous year.

The processing of documents or responses to inquiries was completed in an average time of 2.57 business days, which represents a slight improvement from last year (2.61 days).

Figure 4: Number of documents and inquiries 2014–15

<insert graph>

The following table outlines ORIC’s registration and support services from 2011–12 to 2014–15.

Table 4: Registration services from 2011-12 to 2014-15

Incorporations (new registrations)

 2011–12  2012–13  2013–14  2014–15

Applications received





Applications actioned**





• approved





• refused





• lapsed/withdrawn





Rule book change requests





Requests received





Requests actioned**





• approved





• refused





• lapsed/withdrawn





Name change requests





Requests received


17 22 10

Requests actioned**


19 23 12

• approved


17 23 12

• refused

0 2 0 0

• lapsed/withdrawn

0 0 0 0

Change of corporation contact and officer details





Change requests received

811 821 852 860

Change requests applied to the public register**

797 812 852 852

Annual general meeting extensions and other exemptions





Matters finalised**

448 431 379 471

Written inquiries received





Inquiries finalised**

3014 2337 2319 1950

Notes: *Of the 170 applications approved 11 were organisations transferring their registration from other incorporation legislation.

**Some services finalised during the financial year were initiated in the previous year.

Lodgment of forms and reports

In 2014–15:

  • 42 per cent of all forms were lodged with ORIC electronically.
  • This represents a 5 per cent increase from the previous year.
  • 59.3 per cent of all reports were lodged electronically, an increase of 7.3 per cent from last year.

The Electronic Register of Indigenous Corporations under the CATSI Act (ERICCA) is a database managed, maintained and updated by ORIC to help the Registrar administer the CATSI Act.

ERICCA includes two public registers which are accessible from the ORIC website—the Register of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations and the Register of Disqualified Officers. ERICCA also allows corporations to lodge forms online via the ORIC website.

Lodging online

Corporations more than ever before are choosing to lodge their forms and reports online (rather than by hard copy through the post or by fax).

Using the ORIC online lodgment system at https://online.oric.gov.au makes updating corporation information and lodging forms easier because the system pre-populates forms using the latest information in the register. Corporations can simply update, add to or delete the information.

Figure 5: Forms lodged online compared to hard copy from 2009–10 to 2014–15

Figure 5 is a bar chart that depicts the number of forms lodged online compared to hard copy between 2009-10 and 2014-15.  There has been a steady increase in online lodgment; from 6 per cent in 2009-10 to 42 per cent in 2014-15.

Figure 6: Annual reports lodged online compared to hard copy from
2009–10 to 2014–15

Figure 6 is a bar chart that depicts the number of annual reports lodged online compared to hard copy between 2009-10 and 2014-15.  There has been a steady increase in online lodgment; from 5 per cent in 2009-10 to 59.3 per cent in 2014-15.

Registered corporations

As at 30 June 2015 there were 2688 corporations registered under the CATSI Act.

Figure 7: Registered and new corporations from 1990–91 to 2014–15

Figure 7 is a bar chart that depicts the number of registered and new corporations between 1990-91 and 2014-15. In 1994-95 ORIC had the most (313) new registrations and in 1997-98 ORIC had the highest number of registered corporations (2999). in 2014-15 ORIC had 170 new corporations and 2688 registered corporations.

Note: The number of registered corporations is the total number of corporations registered less the total number deregistered.

Table 5: Registered and new corporations from 1990–91 to 2014–15
Year Number of total registered corporations Number of new registrations
1990–91 1244 220
1991–92 1474 230
1992–93 1772 298
1993–94 2076 304
1994–95 2389 313
1995–96 2654 265


2816 162
1997–98 2999 183
1998–99 2853 128
1999–00 2703 183
2000–01 2709 171
2001–02 2783 187
2002–03 2861 183




2004–05 2585 120


2006–07 2552 111
2007–08 2605 84
2008–09 2723 125
2009–10 2210 163




2011–12 2391 173
2012–13 2488 155
2013–14 2596 163
2014–15 2688 170


Table 6: Location of registered corporations by region as at 30 June 2015

PM&C regional network ORIC regional office Total
Central Australia Alice Springs 348
South Australia Alice Springs 117
Eastern New South Wales Coffs Harbour and Cairns 362
Far North Queensland Coffs Harbour and Cairns 291
Gulf and North Queensland Coffs Harbour and Cairns 120
South Queensland Coffs Harbour and Cairns 212
Western New South Wales Coffs Harbour and Cairns 109
Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt Darwin and Broome 68
Kimberley Darwin and Broome 380
Top End and Tiwi Islands

Darwin and Broome

Victoria and Tasmania National office 106
Greater Western Australia Perth 365
Total   2688
Case study: Supporting a group to register

The Halls Creek Stolen Generations Group is made up of people and their descendants who were forcibly removed from their families under the Aborigines Act 1905 (Western Australia) and relocated to the Moola Boola settlement.

In March 2015 representatives from the group wanted to learn about forming a corporation as a way to assist their people (and their families).

ORIC’s regional officer in Broome, Sid Michels, went to visit the group and held a ‘doorway workshop’.

‘I enjoy doorway workshops—they’re very useful,’ said Sid Michels.‘For one thing they’re informal—there’s no burden of expectation on the participants. I can explain the various benefits of registering under the CATSI Act in a way, and at a pace, that suits the group.’

A doorway workshop allows for discussion and for the group to ask as many questions as they like. The Halls Creek Stolen Generation Group was no exception.

‘It’s great when the group is so engaged and wants to know everything,’ said Sid. ‘I went through the steps involved in the registration process and the various support services ORIC offers. I also covered reporting requirements and showed the group how they might start drafting a corporation rule book.’

Before any group takes the plunge it’s important that they understand what incorporation under the CATSI Act really means. To help with this, the Registrar’s office offers a range of pre-incorporation services (see the ORIC website).

‘The Halls Creek Stolen Generation group hasn’t registered yet,’ said Sid, ‘but it’s not unusual that it takes a bit of time—there’s a lot to think about.’

Strengthening organisational governance

From 1 July 2014 the Australian Government set a requirement that organisations receiving grants of $500,000 or more in a single financial year for funding administered by the Indigenous Affairs Group within PM&C must incorporate under Commonwealth legislation.

The reason for doing this is to improve public confidence in the security and delivery of programs those organisations are funded to deliver. Incorporation under Commonwealth legislation rather than state or territory legislation provides a more robust regulatory framework and access to specialist assistance to address governance issues.

During 2014–15, 11 organisations transferred their incorporation from other legislation to the CATSI Act.

Case study: Transferring from state to Commonwealth

The Noongar Institute of Western Australia Aboriginal Corporation was registered under the CATSI Act on the 7 May 2015 after transferring from the Associations Incorporation Act 1987 (Western Australia).

The board of directors contacted ORIC’s Perth regional office because they were interested in the wider exposure and better support the CATSI Act could offer them. Perth regional manager, Arthur Hyde, began working with the association in April 2014.

‘We worked with the directors to give them an overview of the transfer process. We then helped them draft a CATSI Act rule book that captured the objectives and essential governance requirements of the new corporation,’ said ORIC’s Perth regional manager, Arthur Hyde.

‘It was important to capture the cultural and spiritual values; and other aspirational goals for the new corporation. This step required the ‘tick of approval’ from the association’s elders.’

The law firm Allens Linklaters also assisted in the process, particularly with the requirements of the WA Department of Commerce that administers the Associations Incorporation Act 1987.

The corporation is now making plans to take Arthur up on his offer for corporate governance training sometime next year. ORIC’s support doesn’t stop at registration.

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