When establishing a non-profit organisation, founders can choose from a large range of legal forms. An organisation’s legal structure will determine the types of activities it is legally able to carry out and which government bodies it is required to seek registration from or report to. Indigenous Corporations are one possible structure of a non-profit organisation. Find out more about the other types of legal structures here.
Indigenous Corporations are overseen by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) an independent statutory officer holder appointed by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006. Most but not all Indigenous Corporations are non-profit organisations.
ORIC has the power to register Indigenous entities that wish to become incorporated and assist and support corporations to both run effectively and cater to their community. Like ASIC, ORIC also has the authority to intervene when an Indigenous Corporation or its directors are found to be failing in its duties or requirements.
Most Indigenous Corporations could also be incorporated or registered according to one or other of the various structures listed in this fact sheet, but this specific structure affords cultural and community understanding and support and in some cases varied requirements that might make it a better choice for some organisations. Indigenous Corporations that are also classified as charities are exempted from reporting to the ACNC.
The Indigenous Governance Toolkit is a great resource for leadership teams of Indigenous Corporations. It is a joint venture of Reconciliation Australia and the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute. The toolkit is a free public-access document designed to provide information and guidance to Indigenous communities and organisations. The toolkit draws on the research of the Indigenous Community Governance Project.
This fact sheet is intended as a simple overview of non-profit legal forms and terminology. Non-profit law is incredibly complex and there will be many exceptions, restrictions, allowances and important qualifications that are not described above. This fact sheet is not intended and should not be taken as legal advice. In many cases, serious penalties apply to organisations that are found to be lax in fulfilling the requirements of their legal structure. Dedicated legal advice should be sought from a legal practitioner before taking action.