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Advice from Outside the Square

Category Archives: Managing Indigenous Organisations

What Is Insolvency, Really?

For any business, insolvency is a frightening and emotionally-charged concept. For an Indigenous organisation, it is complex, stressful, and may put many community-owned and hard-won assets at risk of being lost. For the Directors of Indigenous corporations, insolvency creeps up on them because few have received financial training or timely financial reports and advice. Insolvency and potential administration is a time of denial, fear, and a time where they have to struggle with conflicting demands about saving the corporation to personal liability over some unknown twists of insolvent trading law. In fact, once the corporation is put in administration, the Directors are effectively sidelined and have to live with guilt and being powerless. (more…)...
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Get Your Risk-Management Right

Most Indigenous corporations undergo rigorous planning rituals. They prepare strategic plans and many then operationalise them by preparing details business plans. Yet, one of the most important planning rituals for an Indigenous corporation is rarely executed - their Risk Management Plan. Despite all the strategies and business plan action steps, the future is not predictable. Many unpredicted things can happen in just the year ahead, some bringing good fortune, others potential catastrophe. Indigenous organisations face the possibility of changes to funding models, changes in legislation, political pressure, community disasters, fire, cyclone damage and the volatility of the economy. (more…)...
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Make Your Indigenous Corporation Board “Smarter”

If all the Directors on your Board and all the other leaders in your Indigenous corporation are of a similar profile, it's time to expand your ideas about diversity. Diversity is not just about balancing the genders and the ages because if all your Directors share the same background - hard not to in an Indigenous context - you need more diversity for better all-round decision-making processes. Indigenous corporations have evolved from "associations" incorporated under the old Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976. They now have their own Corporations Act (the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006) which was intentionally drafted to mirror the mainstream Corporations Act 2001 along with the duties, responsibilities and penalties attached to mainstream corporate governance. Indigenous corporations have had to deal with more complex and non-local issues, particularly as many hold important assets as Native Title PBC's or as commercial arms of Native Title determinations and other royalty agreements. As a result, the perspectives that Directors need in decision-making have also evolved. While the need to remain connected to cultural imperatives and understand the stakeholders is still a key factor in all Boards' decisions, increasingly, Indigenous Boards need to understand the Law, Agreement-making, commercial opportunity, financial...
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How To Write Your Not-For-Profit Strategic Plan

There is broad agreement among not-for-profit leaders and experts that planning is a critical component of good management and governance. Planning helps ensure that an organisation remains relevant and responsive to the needs of its community, and contributes to organisational stability and growth. It provides a basis for monitoring progress, and for assessing results and impact. It facilitates new program development. It enables an organisation to look into the future in an orderly and systematic way. From a governance perspective, it enables the Board to set policies and goals to guide the organisation and provides a clear focus to the Executive Director and staff for program implementation and agency management. Most organisations understand the need for annual program objectives and a program-focused work plan. Funders require them, and they provide a basis for setting priorities, organizing work, and assessing progress. A growing number of community-based organisations go beyond funder requirements to develop annual objectives and operating plans which also include a systematic plan for resource development, organisational development, and in some cases Board development. Most groups find it practical to define objectives for a 12-month period, and to design strategies and programs to meet them. Longer-range planning – planning beyond the next...
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