Senior First Nations leaders across Australia are calling for the Federal Government to launch a Royal Commission into Indigenous corporations and statutory bodies.

After the 2020 review of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth) (CATSI Act) released last week concluded the sector’s regulatory body, the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC), needed a “broader suite of regulatory responses” to enable a “more proportionate intervention when required”, many are calling for the entire sector to be reviewed and overhauled.

Former National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) head Raelene Webb QC told the The Sydney Morning Herald she wants to see an “open dialogue” between government and First Nations communities to create a sector that has a better balance of corporate governance structures and traditional land management.

Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Waye and Ngarrindjeri man Mark Koolmatrie also spoke to the Herald about poor governance in the sector and the need for a clean up — including the federally run Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) and Indigenous Business Australia (IBA).

“[The] ILSC and IBA should be abandoned,” Koolmatrie said.

The move also comes after South Australian Premier Steven Marshall urged the SA Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee to launch an inquiry into the governance of Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations (ACCOs).

“I seek the advice of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee on ways to support Aboriginal community aspirations for self-determination and would be especially interested in its recommendations about a comprehensive governance and capacity building framework to support South Australian Aboriginal organisations and corporations,” the Premier wrote in a letter to the Committee.

It’s understood questions have also arisen around the efficiency and legitimacy of the ILSC and IBA as the bodies face criticism around deals allegedly lacking due diligence.

More to come.

By Hannah Cross