Why PBCs need support
PBCs are a key element in the native title system:
- PBCs are central to community relations and economic development.
- PBCs provide certainty in agreement-making, as they constitute an easily identifiable negotiating party with whom agreements can be reached.
- There are key risks for industry if PBCs are not appropriately resourced, including increased costs and substantial delays in industry agreement-making.
- There are significant issues when third parties who are wishing to make agreements with PBCs are funding the agreement-making process including the ability of PBCs to arrive at free, prior and informed consent.
What do PBCs need funding for?
While each PBC will have different funding needs, they share a common need for administrative support and funding, particularly in remote areas. These may include:
- Communications facilities, including phone lines, postal services, computers and internet connection, so PBCs can consult with external parties, including those proposing future acts
- Administrative facilities such as stationery, filing materials, and printers to produce, store and copy documents
- Storage space and facilities, to fulfil statutory obligations around record-keeping
- Office space and furnishings for staff
The Attorney General’s Steering Committee Report also notes other potential ongoing costs for:
- Organising and running meetings of PBCs and native title holders. Consultation with native title holders is required under law but is challenged by distances especially in remote areas or when most native title holders live off-country
- Professional advice and services including legal, anthropological and financial consulting
- Training for PBC members in governance and financial management
- Employing office staff under certain circumstances.
The Native Title Program (administered through the Department for Families, Housing, Communities Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)) adds to these lists:
- The lease of office space
- The costs of insurance, bank fees and charges
- Assistance in preparing annual reports.
- Assistance in preparing funding and grant applications
- Utility costs such as power, water and sewerage.
In addition to these statutory obligations, PBCs may seek funding for other reasons. Each PBC has a unique constitution and aims. Because of this, individual RNTBCs may have aspirations including land management, service provision, cultural heritage preservation, and more. PBC constitutions can be searched and viewed at the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations website. PBCs which hold exclusive title may have land management responsibilities that entail costs for materials and wages. Other PBCs have stated aims that extend into cultural, educational, social and ceremonial realms.
Extracted from Leah Ginnivan, ‘Funding for Prescribed Bodies Corporate’ Native Title Newsletter, September October, No. 5, 2010.
In June 2015 the Minister for Indigenous Affairs announced as part of the Northern Australia White Paper process an additional $20.4 million in funding over an initial four years to be targeted at capacity building for Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs). The funding will assist these native title holding corporations to generate economic benefits through the effective and sustainable management of their land. Although the new funding was announced as part of the developing Northern Australia process, it will be available to PBCs throughout Australia.
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is now inviting eligible applicants to apply for PBC capacity building grant funding under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) . Applications will be accepted from individual PBCs, groups of PBCs, or third parties authorised to administer funds on behalf of PBCs. Applicants must meet other eligibility criteria outlined in the IAS Grant Guidelines and undergo financial viability checks and a risk assessment. There is no closing date for applications and the Department will consider applications throughout the year.
For more information on the IAS and to apply for funding visit the Department's website.
The first round of Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) grant funding has now closed. A subsequent ABA beneficial grant funding round is scheduled to open in February 2017 .
ABA grants funding is provided for one-off funding proposals that benefit Aboriginal people living in the Northern Territory. Proposals should fall under one of the four funding categories:
- Supporting enterprises
- Supporting community
- Supporting culture, language and leadership
- Supporting land, sea and waters management use
Applicants with proposals relating to land acquisition or management, or agriculture or pastoral investment must first seek the Indigenous Land Corporation's (ILC) views of the proposal beforehand, including whether the ILC considers the proposal viable and value for money. The ILC's views must be included in the application.
Likewise, applicants with proposals relating to business investment must first seek Indigenous Business Australia's (IBA) views of the proposal beforehand, including whether IBA considers the proposal viable and value for money. IBA's views must be included in the application.
For more information on the ABA grants funding and to apply, visit the Department's website.
PBC Funding and Training Guides
To provide some support to PBCs in this context, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), and the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) have created funding and training guides for PBCs. AIATSIS has both national, state and territory guides, but much of the funding outlined will be relevant to only a handful of PBCs. NNTT’s toolkit is focussed mainly on federal government programs which may assist PBCs. To access PBC training and funding guides click here.