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Advice from Outside the Square

Managing Indigenous Organisations

5 Questions For Any Indigenous Board To Consider

If you are a Director in an Indigenous corporation, the start of a new year is as good a time as any to review your Board performance and the stability of the corporation you are leading. As a Director, you have the responsibility to oversight the performance of management, and the "shape" and direction of the corporation. You also have a legal duty to exercise diligence in your work as a Director, which means understanding where any weaknesses lie and acting upon them. But, to be short and sweet, at the beginning of the new year, spend some time considering these 5 issues as you survey the health of your corporation. (more…)...
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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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