What you need to know


The Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI) allows for a suitable form of incorporation under Commonwealth law for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations. The Corporations Act 2001 is not a suitable structure for these types of entities as it is not designed specifically to assist a narrowly defined group of members.


CATSI Act is almost identical to the State based Co-operatives legislation in that CATSI Corporations like co-operatives:

  • Are Membership based corporations;
  • Have similar format to Co-operatives in relation to their Constitution in that it cannot simply be adopted like a company constitution, but specific provisions must be considered and completed before the CATSI Corporation can be registered for example Objects, Powers and Membership requirements.
  • Must have at least one or more Objects there are lots of possibilities, but some examples are:
    • medical services;
    • child care;
    • education or educational scholarships;
    • the management of mining royalties;

to a particular Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander group, or in a particular region;

  • have Powers subject to the Act and those powers may be restricted;
  • Voting is democratic at meetings of Members that is one member one vote;
  • Can refuse membership to people who do not meet the membership requirements under their Constitution;
  • Keep a membership register note that the membership register must specify whether each member is indigenous or non-indigenous if the Constitution provides for non-indigenous people to be members;
  • Is subject to supervision by the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations appointed under the Corporations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act not the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC);
  • May be a not for profit that is it does not distribute surplus funds (profits) to members or a business that distributes surpluses to members. The CATSI Corporation’s Constitution must specify whether it is a not for profit or a business;
  • Has dispute resolution provisions in the CATSI Corporation’s Constitution.


  • Directors are elected by the Members at a Members General Meeting. The CATSI Act provides there must be no less than 2 and no more than 12 directors;
  • Directors must work in the best interests of the CATSI Corporation (and not their own or their families own personal best interest);
  • Directors must disclose to the CATSI Corporation if they have personal interests that may conflict with their obligation to act in the best interests of the CATSI Corporation and their conflict must be written into the records of the CATSI Corporation;
  • Directors are not paid unless they are employees, but expenses may be paid on their behalf when travelling on CATSI Corporation business;
  • The board of directors must meet on a regular basis usually no less than 4 times per year;
  • The annual General Meeting of Members must be held no later than 5 months after the end of the financial year;
  • Financial records and reporting must meet the Australian Accounting Standards;
  • CATSI Corporations may be designated small or large for accounting purposes with differing requirements particularly in relation to audit requirements;
  • If the CATSI Corporation is a not for profit on winding up all surplus funds must be transferred to another not for profit CATSI Corporation with similar objects for example to another medical service or child-care provider.


Mattila Advisory articles are intended to provide general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice.