Indigenous Governance Training and the CATSI Act Review

Fri 29 Jan 2021

The Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) legislation is undergoing another process of review to consider how the CATSI Act can be amended to work better in practice, and to assist in the advancement of Indigenous organisations who decide to incorporate under this legislation.

AIGI made a submission to the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) on 2 October 2020 regarding the proposed changes to the CATSI Act. AIGI’s submission focussed on how ORIC can improve its current training and capacity building programs.

The submission drew upon AIGI’s body of research and expertise about Indigenous governance, and in particular, AIGI’s audit of training and education programs available for Indigenous people on governance.

This audit – completed in 2018 – was the first of its kind in Australia and which identified the almost complete absence of customised recurrent courses that integrate cultural and corporate governance.

Feedback that AIGI has received from community organisations indicates that ORIC’s training sessions lack interactive and practical elements; and are not delivered in a way that has connection and relevance to the day-to-day governance challenges, needs and experiences of the participants.

AIGI’s recommendations to ORIC included:

  • increasing ORIC’s offering of culturally informed, tailored governance training, which is designed to account for the diversity and complexity of Indigenous cultures and modes of governance. ORIC should examine how training to support governance (re)building initiatives can be designed in a flexible manner, with in-built mechanisms to identify and work with communities’ cultural practices and priorities;
  • the development of interactive, tailored workshops to assist organisations in drafting Rule Books in innovative ways to accommodate each organisation’s unique circumstances and cultural practices;
  • the development and implementation of a framework for Governance health checks; and
  • the development of robust and effective evaluation mechanisms to obtain feedback regarding the evolving training needs of Indigenous organisations and to maintain flexibility and dynamism in the design of its programs to meet those needs.

AIGI also invited the NIAA and ORIC to engage with AIGI and other key stakeholders in a broader conversation on how the Indigenous incorporation and governance space on a national level can be transformed to an empowerment model that recognises the evidence (globally) of Indigenous-led governance building that honours the complexity of our cultural diversity rather than administering a one-size-fits-all compliance model.

AIGI’s Chief Executive Officer, Michelle Deshong, also participates on the Stakeholder Reference Group meeting for the review of the CATSI Act.

We hope to see ORIC take on what AIGI has put forward in its submission, so that greater regard can be given to the importance of Indigenous cultural practices as the foundation for building strong contemporary governance arrangements.