Central Australia’s native title holders gathered together for the first time at Ross River Resort in the Northern Territory for the inaugural Prescribed Body Corporate Regional Forum last week.
The event ran from June 18-21 and saw about 140 directors from 29 Prescribed Body Corporates (PBCs) in the Central Land Council region develop their skills and knowledge, share stories, and gain a better understanding of the opportunities provided by native title.
Central Land Council, National Native Title Council and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet all closely collaborated to bring the Regional Forum to Central Australia.
“This unprecedented event has been tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of remote native title holders,” said Central Land Council’s Manager of Native Title Francine McCarthy.
Ms McCarthy said the event gave the opportunity for PBC directors to network, learn and build a stronger voice for their country.
“This is important to enable Aboriginal people, native title holders, PBC directors and members to understand what their native title rights are, what native title is, what the role of their PBC is.”
PBC Director of Patta Aboriginal Corporation Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate (RNTBC) Sandra Morrison said ‘Prescribed Body Corporate’ is a phrase not enough Indigenous Australians understand.
“PBC needs to be clearer for everybody to understand. We need a clear communication for our old people because PBC is an English word,” Ms Morrison said.
“My people know about native title but not about PBCs.”
Rob Roy, Coordinator, Traditional Owner and Community Liaison at Gurindji Aboriginal Corporation, said before the forum started that he hoped to have a better understanding of the role and purpose of a PBC director afterwards.
“I am still trying to understand … It is a new learning curve for me,” Mr Roy said.
Lisa Castanelli from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet said forums like these are vital.
“These forums are very important for us to hear directly from native title holders. They are the people who are on country, trying to do things that they have to do to satisfy different white fella laws,” Ms Castanelli said.
“It’s important for us to know what the issues are, what sort of help they need and how we can help them or direct them to other sources of help.”
Ms McCarthy said the feedback was that the information in the forum was useful, understandable and relatable.
Central Land Council’s Native Title Unit has also been working for two years on a plain English brochure to explain PBCs and native title.
The Council used the forum as an opportunity to introduce their new PBC Support Unit, a unit that assists PBCs with funding applications, complying with ORIC (Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations) regulations and strengthening PBC independence.