Members and decision-making in PBCs
Members are essential to the success of a PBC through decision-making. A common law native title holder does not automatically become a member of a PBC, see rules about members, but can easily become a member through applying. As the PBC represents all native title holder’s rights and interests in a determination area it is important to become a member to actively take part in PBC business and in decisions about the native title lands.
Why become a member?
People who wish to have an active role in PBC business should become a member. Members have a say in what happens, how their PBC does business and the decisions it makes – particularly at its annual general meetings (AGMs).
Members have important rights including the right to:
- participate in any and all PBCs activities
- receive notice of meetings such as AGMs
- speak and vote in AGMs
- put forward ideas about what the PBC can or should do
- inspect the records of the PBC
- become directors on the PBC board
- and are eligible for PBC run programs.
Who can become a member?
How to become a member is written in a PBC’s rule book. Often, this process will involve filling in an application which is reviewed and accepted by the PBC’s board. New changes in early 2021 mean that a PBC can’t refuse membership applications if the criteria is met.
The roles and responsibilities of members
A PBC’s rule book lists what members are required to do for their corporation. For a PBC to function well, members should:
- participate actively in the business of the PBC
- be ethical and have strong morals
- be kind, straightforward, respectful of others involved
- be willing to listen to others, especially those who may have a different opinion to yours
- not use the PBC for personal or any other person’s profit
- not speak badly about the PBC in public or to others outside the corporation
- tell the PBC of changes of details (such as address or phone number)
- declare any personal or business interests which could be a real conflict of interest, or other people might see it as a conflict of interest at meetings.
The Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation experience
The Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation manages native title rights for the Eastern Maar Peoples, which includes people who identify as Maar, Eastern Gunditjmara, Tjap Wurrung, Peek Whurrong, Kirrae Whurrung, Kuurn Kopan Noot and/or Yarro waetch (Tooram Tribe). Jamie Lowe of the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation speaks about engagement with membership and the importance of engaging with youth.