Decision making

Directors and members must work together to make the big decisions to ensure their PBC functions well and is sustainable into the future. Depending on the situation, directors may make decisions on behalf of all members and which are in the best interest of their PBC. In other situations, all members of a PBC will have a say in making decisions for their PBC.

Making strong decisions

Strong decisions are ones where all members are happy with an outcome. However, sometimes a good decision is when all members at least understand why that decision was made.

Fair and timely decision making is crucial to strong PBC governance and all decisions should be made with Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

Article 32(2) of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People says:

States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to:

  • Obtain their FPIC prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories or other resources.

It is also the responsibility of directors to ensure that decisions are reached with FPIC.

Crucial to FPIC is ensuring that consultation between directors, members, stakeholders and all other parties is conducted with mutual respect and in good faith. Free prior and informed consent means:

  • people are not pressured, intimidated or manipulated into making decisions
  • consent is sought before any activity starts and that there is enough time for consultation and decision-making processes
  • sufficient information has been provided and that people understand all the issues, including in complex proposals that involve the use of natural resources such as minerals or water.

Strong decision-making processes must:

  • ensure FPIC
  • respect all views knowing that no one has a monopoly on the truth
  • have the right people involved especially those most impacted by a decision, accounting for gender, age, cultural priorities, family interests, particular areas of land, or individuals with specialist skills in sectors such as education, language and land and water management
  • follow the principle of subsidiarity
  • ensure everyone can see how and why a decision was made
  • have cultural legitimacy and account for things such as looking after special places, relationships between people and the roles of elders
  • do no harm and build relationships
  • identify and account for the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of Indigenous people of the native title area
  • allow time for exploring arguments for and against
  • have been clearly communicated to all PBC members
  • deal with conflict of interest
  • place the interest of the whole above the individual
  • involve mentoring of younger people ensuring that knowledge is being passed on appropriately.

Decision making for PBCs

The legal context for decision making for PBCs is controlled by Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act) 2006 (CATSI Act) the Native Title (Prescribed Body Corporate) Regulations 1999 (PBC Regulations) and a corporation’s rule book. Rules and regulations about decision making for PBCs is discussed in other sections of the PBC website including rules about decision making, directors and members.

Further resources