The Native Title Act 1993 (NTA) and the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) were changed in February 2021.

This means there are new laws for Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate (RNTBCs). Under the new laws:

• Existing RNTBCs (registered before 25 March 2021) have until 24 March 2023 to make changes to their rule books.

• New RNTBCs (registered on or after 25 March 2021) must make sure their rule book complies with the changed CATSI Act when they incorporate under it.

What changes do existing RNTBCs need to make to their rule books?

Rules about membership

RNTBCs must allow all common law holders to be represented.

The membership criteria in rule books must allow all common law holders to be represented in the RNTBC’s membership, either by having their name on the membership register or the name of someone from a family who represents all family members.

RNTBC directors must accept an application for membership if the person meets the membership criteria and applies for membership in the proper way. Any rules that say otherwise must be removed.

There are new laws about when an RNTBC member can be removed from the member register. RNTBCs can’t make their own rules anymore. The RNTBC must follow the process set out in the CATSI Act for cancelling a person’s membership. Any other process for cancelling membership must be removed

Rules about disputes

RNTBCs must have a process in their rule book to deal with disputes between the RNTBC and people who are, or claim to be, common law holders.

Rule books must include a rule stating how disputes will be resolved between RNTBCs and people who are, or claim to be, common law holders. The rule must cover disputes about:

• whether or not a person is a common law holder, and

• the RNTBC’s performance of its native title functions.

What is the process for making these changes?

Funding to support these changes

$7.1 million in Government funding is available until June 2024 to help make these changes.

RNTBCs can also use this money to do training on the new requirements.

Information about the funding can be found on the NIAA website: www.niaa.gov.au/indigenousaffairs/grants-and-funding/capacitybuilding-native-title-corporations

For information about applying for this funding, contact your local NIAA Regional Office on 1800 079 098.

Or search for a NIAA Regional Office: https://www.niaa.gov.au/contact-us/regional-networkaddresses

Where to go for help?

You can talk to your Native Title Representative Body or Service Provider or the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) about help. More information can be found on the ORIC website: www.oric.gov.au/run-corporation/native-title-changes-rntbcs