Administer and distribute statutory, negotiated and other payments to the traditional owners and other clients.
The CLC deposits income from the use of Aboriginal land in the land use trust account and distributes it in accordance with council decisions. Funds are mainly distributed to Aboriginal associations incorporated under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) and must be paid to a corporation set up under that act.
Pursuant to section 35C of the Land Rights Act, those corporations are required to provide the CLC with their financial statements and a written report. There is no statutory mechanism to enable enforcement of these reporting requirements, other than where payments were made to a corporation pursuant to a determination. However, financial statements are publicly available on the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations website.
When funds are distributed to those corporations, the CLC’s Aboriginal Associations Management Centre assists them to administer their obligations under the CATSI Act, and distribute funds or benefits to, or on behalf of, their members. Corporations may engage the services of the centre on an opt-in basis, subject to an agreement about cost recovery. The services to each corporation are specified in a letter of engagement, confirmed at each annual general meeting. Total distributions to all corporations in 2019–20 was $19.9 million, down from $22.4 million the previous year. This reduction is directly related to COVID-19 restrictions.
The CLC prepared 72 traditional owner identifications to ensure the right people were consulted about the distribution of income.
Table 25. Compliance with the CATSI Act and services provided to corporations
Annual general meetings and directors meetings/income distribution instructions taken
Income distribution instruction meetings
Corporations’ statutory financial statements to be lodged with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations
Trust statements lodged with Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission
GOOD GOVERNANCE– ABORIGINAL CORPORATIONS ADMINISTERED BY THE CLC
The CLC is unable to offer financial advice to the Aboriginal corporations it administers. As the investment funds of the corporations grow, their boards need to develop the capacity to make investment decisions or to engage appropriate advice.
The Granites Mine Affected Area and Kurra Aboriginal corporations embarked on a largely self-funded three-year governance program during 2016–17. The program was designed to strengthen the boards of directors’ capacity in, and understanding of, corporate, financial and investment governance. Mark Lewis Consulting Services delivered two multi-day applied learning workshops for each corporation. These workshops were tailored to each board and aimed to build culturally appropriate and legitimate governance capacity. The CLC is monitoring and evaluating the program to assess progress and to suggest improvements as the learning progresses.
INVESTING FOR THE FUTURE– GMAAAC AND KURRA
In addition to strengthening directors’ governance capacity with the Good Governance Program, Price Waterhouse Cooper Indigenous Consulting has been engaged to assist directors of both the Granites Mine Affected Area and Kurra Aboriginal corporations to develop and implement a tender process for the selection of investment advisors for those corporations. The engagement of investment advisors will enable the directors to realise their long-held vision of ensuring significant funds are secure and growing for the benefit of future generations.
The granting of leases and licences over Aboriginal land generates a significant income for traditional owners. Rental income is applied, in accordance with their instructions, through the CLC’s community development program and AAMC. The centre manages the distribution of leasing income when traditional owners decide to distribute money among themselves.
The CLC conducted five consultations to receive standing instructions from traditional owners about the distribution of rental income and held 16 meetings to distribute income.
It prepared seven traditional owner identifications to ensure the right people were consulted about the distribution of income. Most payments were for exploration and mining-related compensation. The CLC also made distributions for gravel extraction access payments and lease payments.