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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Native Title Representative Bodies and Service Providers Performance Reviews 2023-24

Statement of Work

Service Area: Corporate Management Advisory Services
Service Category: Organisational planning and development
Service Sub-category: Business Performance Reviews

Detailed Statement of Work


The Native Title Act 1993 (the Act) provides a framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to seek recognition and protection of their native title rights. Part 11 of the Act enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to seek assistance to pursue these ends through organisations that perform the functions of a representative Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander body. These functions are listed in section 203B of the Act and include assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within specified regions to make and progress native title claims, negotiate land-use agreements, and mediate disputes about native title.  

The Australian Government has funded a national network of organisations to perform these functions since the Act commenced. Funding is currently administered by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) and fourteen organisations are currently funded (see map prepared by the National Native Title Tribunal available at: The Act envisages that each organisation will have an effective monopoly on providing Australian Government funded native title services within the region it services. In practice, organisations are funded continuously subject to ongoing satisfactory performance, reflecting the limited number of organisations capable of undertaking the role and the high transaction costs that more contestable arrangements would incur. The combined budget for organisations is approximately $90 million a year and has been relatively stable over the years. Organisations operate in widely varying circumstances, including in terms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ historical circumstances, the remoteness of service delivery areas and State/Territory Government policy-settings.

NIAA maintains broad oversight of organisations’ operations through reporting under funding agreements. However, it has committed to undertaking regular independent reviews to examine the performance of organisations in depth. These reviews are intended to ensure that organisations are providing value for money through the provision of high-quality services to native title claimants and holders. This review will build on findings of a similar review conducted in three tranches between 2017-21 (the previous review). Summary reports from the previous review are available at: Performance reviews of native title representative bodies and services providers | National Indigenous Australians Agency (

The Agency therefore seeks a Service Provider to review the individual and comparative performance of the following thirteen organisations funded by the Agency to perform the functions of a representative Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander body (noting one funded organisation is new to the role and will not be reviewed on this occasion).

  • Cape York Land Council (Cairns)
  • Carpentaria Land Council (Cairns)
  • Central Desert Native Title Services (Perth)
  • Central Land Council (Alice Springs)
  • First Nations Legal and Research Services (Melbourne)
  • Kimberley Land Council (Broome)
  • Native Title Services Goldfields (Kalgoorlie)
  • Northern Land Council (Darwin)
  • North Queensland Land Council (Cairns)
  • NTSCORP (Sydney)
  • Queensland South Native Title Services (Brisbane)
  • South Australian Native Title Services (Adelaide)
  • Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (Perth)

Scope of review

1. Focussing on the period 1 July 2019 – 30 June 2022 and addressing developments since the previous review of each organisation the Service Provider will:

a. Review and assess the extent to which each organisation:

  • Has achieved positive native title outcomes for persons who hold or may hold native title in its region taking account, where relevant, of disruptions caused by COVID-19. 
  • Assesses and prioritises applications for assistance in a manner that is equitable, transparent and robust and is well publicised and understood by clients and potential clients. 
  • Deals respectfully, equitably, transparently and in a culturally appropriate manner with persons who hold or may hold native title in its region, including by adequately investigating and resolving complaints.
  • Performs its functions in a cost-effective manner, including by identifying the key cost drivers for the organisation.
  • Has governance and management structures, and organisational policies and an organisational culture that support efficient and effective project delivery.
  • Is adequately supporting Prescribed Bodies Corporate towards self‑sufficiency.
  • Has developed its planning for a post-determination environment.

b. Compare the individual performance of the thirteen organisations.

c. Make incidental findings about any systemic issues identified during the review and assessment of individual organisations, including the implications of the more contested nature of many of the remaining claims, and ways in which requests for assistance via funding to third party firms might be best managed in a way that is transparent, equitable, relatively consistent across the country and manageable within existing funding envelopes.  

2. The Service Provider will provide the following reports, reflecting the Service Provider’s independent views, to assist with Agency decision-making:

  • An individual report for each organisation reviewed, including recommendations on what changes, if any, the organisation could make to improve its performance against each of the criteria listed in 1(a) above.
  • A comparative report comparing the performance of the organisations and outlining incidental findings on systemic issues.
  • A de-identified summary of the comparative report.

Reports – publication and other requirements

The Agency intends to publish the individual reports and the de-identified summary of the comparative report (the full comparative report is not intended to be published). These reports must be suitable for publication in full and should not contain information provided in confidence or sensitive information. The selected Service Provider must give organisations an opportunity to comment on a draft of their individual report. Organisations will also be invited to publicly respond to their report findings and recommendations when the reports are published. 


To allow for consistent tracking of performance between the previous review and this review, the reviews and assessments of each organisation should broadly follow the methodology used for the previous review. This methodology is outlined in Appendix D to summaries of individual reports from the previous review and discussed in the summary comparative report from the previous review. The Service Provider will, however, be expected to consider whether refinements to the methodology used for the previous review are appropriate. The methodology will be agreed with the Agency early in the review. 

Some analysis can be conducted as a desk-top exercise informed by the previous review, information in the public domain, and information to be provided by the Agency. Consistent with the methodology adopted for the previous review, the selected Service Provider will also be expected to consult with organisations (staff and boards); clients and potential clients of the organisations; and other relevant stakeholders (including State government agencies, the Federal Court, and the National Native Title Tribunal). The Agency is open to considering a mix of approaches to consultation for the purposes of the methodology including in-person interviews, telephone or videoconference interviews, and online surveys. A consultation plan will be agreed with the Agency early in the review.

Agency assistance

Given the complex and specialised nature of the work undertaken by the organisations to be reviewed and to assist the Service Provider to quickly acquire relevant factual knowledge of organisations’ operating environments, the Agency will engage a specialist Adviser with a high level of experience and expertise in the funding and delivery of native title services. The Adviser will attend consultations to assist with factual input and be available for subsequent debriefings on factual and contextual matters. Draft reports should be provided to the Adviser for fact checking and for comment on the adequacy of analysis before submission to the Agency Contract Manager. The Adviser will also be available to provide ad hoc factual advice throughout the review process as and if needed. The Advisor will not, however, have any role in developing the review methodology, findings or recommendations.


  • Project inception meeting with the Agency (by videoconference). 
  • Monthly progress meetings with the Agency (by videoconference).
  • Project Plan.
  • Consultation Plan.
  • Methodology.
  • Thirteen individual reports.
  • Comparative report.
  • De-identified summary of comparative report.  

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