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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Review of the CATSI Act

The Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) is the law that establishes the role of the Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations and provides for a special form of incorporation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations play a critical role in delivering services and supporting economic development in Indigenous communities, particularly in regional and remote Australia. It is necessary to ensure that these corporations have the right regulatory framework and support.

In December 2019 the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, announced a comprehensive review into the CATSI Act which was expected to benefit over 3000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations around the country. The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) led the review.

This comprehensive review built on the findings of the Technical Review of the CATSI Act which was conducted in 2017. It had an expanded scope to include an assessment of the effectiveness of the CATSI Act as a special measure under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, including whether it can better support economic and community development opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The review also considered aspects of the CATSI Act that are working effectively, and areas that could be improved.

Phase 1

In phase one of the CATSI Act Review, the NIAA sought feedback in relation to those aspects of the CATSI Act that should be considered as part of the review. The public consultation closed on 14 February 2020.

In this first phase, a survey was published on the NIAA’s website that received 60 responses. A further eight submissions were received via email. 

Governance was identified as the area that was important to most respondents, closely followed by the purpose of the CATSI Act.

The Summary Report provides a snapshot of respondents’ commentary according to themes.

The responses received through the online survey and other submissions were used to inform a draft report that was published on the NIAA’s website. 

Phase 2

As part of the second phase of the review, feedback was sought in relation to the Draft Report which outlined suggested changes to the CATSI Act. Feedback about the draft report was received via:

  • surveys that were published on the NIAA’s website in relation to the proposals outlined in Chapters 2 to 9 of the draft report to which 141 responses were received
  • 41 written submissions
  • 41 virtual consultation sessions, attended by 165 participants from across Australia
  • 15 individual consultation sessions, for industry stakeholders, traditional owners and other interested stakeholders
  • three anonymous feedback responses submitted through the web-based feedback form
  • eight feedback responses received via email.

CATSI Act Review Final Report

Feedback from the second phase of consultations informed the drafting of the CATSI Act Review Final Report which has been presented to the Minister for Indigenous Australians. The review included 72 recommendations outlining changes to the CATSI Act, suggesting further consideration of some aspects of the CATSI Act and identifying additional support that could be provided to corporations incorporated under the CATSI Act.

The Australian Government is considering the Final Report with a view to bringing forward a bill to amend the CATSI Act in due course.

To keep informed of opportunities and other news, please join the mailing list by emailing CATSIActReview@niaa.gov.au.

More information on the CATSI Act can be found on the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) website.

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