The Registrar of Indigenous Corporations is an independent statutory office holder who registers and regulates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act). The Registrar is supported to do this work by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC).
As at 30 June 2019 the Registrar’s functions were delivered by 40 full-time equivalent staff. Of these, 58 per cent identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
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As at 30 June 2019 there were 3,198 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations registered under the CATSI Act, including 202 registered native title bodies corporate.
During the year, ORIC registered 193 new corporations, including 15 transfers of incorporation from other legislation. ORIC finalised deregistration for 44 corporations.
Corporations lodged 5,916 forms and documents with ORIC requiring changes to the Register of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations. This figure included 2,397 corporation reports; 1,103 changes to directors, contact persons and secretaries; 928 members lists; 220 contact details; and 232 rule books. Corporations requested 523 exemptions—ORIC granted 446 and rejected 76. There were 111,677 website sessions in which individuals made searches of the public register for information about individual corporations.
ORIC delivered corporate governance training to 827 participants from 261 corporations. There were 96 workshops in total (one Certificate IV, seven Introduction to Corporate Governance workshops, 12 two-day governance workshops, 76 corporation-specific workshops). Ninety-nine per cent of participants reported they increased their understanding of corporate governance.
People from corporations and other interested people made 9,613 calls to ORIC’s call centre. There were 4,134 inquiries finalised (3,074 received by phone, 1,028 in writing, 32 in person).
As at 30 June 2019, 81.1 per cent of corporations were compliant with their 2017–18 reporting obligations under the CATSI Act. During the year, ORIC received 588 complaints involving corporations and finalised 557, and received 16 dispute matters and finalised 15.
ORIC started the financial year with 35 examinations in progress and has started a further 53. As at 30 June 2019, 66 examinations had been finalised. Of these, 38 corporations were operating well and issued a management letter; 22 were required to improve standards outlined in a compliance notice; four had serious issues and were asked to show cause why a special administrator should not be appointed; one went into liquidation; and one was provided a report on their solvency.
In the period there were three Registrar-initiated general meetings called.
During 2018–19, ORIC assessed six referrals about potential breaches of the CATSI Act. One matter was referred to the Queensland Police Service for investigation and two were assessed as requiring no further action. ORIC concluded four investigations, referring one brief of evidence (comprising 25 minor regulatory prosecutions) to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and no briefs for civil action.
ORIC finalised three criminal prosecution matters and has another three in progress (this includes two matters which each comprise multiple minor regulatory prosecutions). ORIC also finalised five civil action matters in court and has one civil action matter in progress.
The CATSI Act provides the Registrar with a unique form of regulatory assistance to support corporations with serious governance or financial problems. Four special administrations were in progress at the outset of the year, and seven were started during 2018–19. Four were completed. All four were handed back to members’ control. The average duration of special administrations was nine months.