References and Resources

Resources relevant to Prescribed Bodies Corporate

Links to relevant websites

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) has conducted research on PBCs over many years. Information on AIATSIS’ PBC/RNTBC research can be found on the AIATSIS website. As discussed on that page, surveys of PBCs were conducted in 2017 and again in 2019, and there are some research reports and information sheets which would be of interest to anthropologists.

For instance, there is a downloadable report which outlines the rationale, methods, results, and implications of the 2019 survey of Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate (RNTBCs) (published February 2021). There are also a number of short papers/fact sheets arising from the 2017 PBC survey; for example, regarding the range of decision-making and dispute management rules, set out in RNTBC constitutions.

In both instances, the focus appeared to be on rules related to the internal (corporate) governance of RNTBCs themselves, but did not include the governance of the functions they performed by the RNTBCs, such as ascertaining the views of native title holders regarding dealings in the native title (in accordance with the PBC Regulations), or disputation amongst the native title holders concerning who rightfully ‘speaks for’ particular locales or areas within the determined lands and waters concerned.

AIATSIS also has a special-purpose website for PBCs ( which contains an overview of the Native Title Act, and of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) and the role that the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) plays in administering the CATSI Act. It also outlines the process of a native title claimant application and the Prescribed Body Corporate (PBC) regulations  under the NTA which set out the functions of a PBC and the principles by which decisions are to be made by native title holders regarding the management of their native title.

The AIATSIS website also has an extensive list of materials relevant to PBCs on its ‘Resources and publications‘ tab.

The ORIC website has a specific section dealing with the intersection between the CATSI Act and native title, including a discussion of the PBC Regulations. It also has a downloadable paper entitled Writing good governance rules for PBCs and RNTBCs, which however focuses almost exclusively on rules for the internal governance of the PBC/RNTBC, with little detail directly relevant to decision-making concerning governance of the native title.

CNTA resources relevant to PBCs

Below are downloadable files relevant to PBC design and management. The first is a paper by David Martin Framework for working with native title groups in establishing and managing socially and culturally sustainable PBCs. Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation, for whom it was originally prepared, have given permission for an edited version of this paper to be available on the CNTA website.

There is also a Fact Sheet published in 2012 by the Aurora Foundation  which very usefully sets out the legal contexts in which PBCs/RNTBCs make decisions, and separates those relating to the internal governance of the PBC on the one hand, and on the other the governance of managing and making decisions concerning native title. This Fact Sheet does not appear to now be available on the Foundation’s website, so CNTA has uploaded it to this site.

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Thumbnail for Aurora-Fact-Sheet-PBC-decision-making.pdfAurora-Fact-Sheet-PBC-decision-making.pdf

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Thumbnail for PBC-governance-framework-issues.pdfPBC-governance-framework-issues.pdf

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For convenience, a workshop presentation in April 2020 for staff of Cairns-based Native Title Representative Bodies which can be found on the ‘Recent events’ tab on this site, is reproduced here. Entitled Common mistakes in PBC design and operation, David Martin here outlines certain erroneous assumptions often made in the design and operation of Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs) that hold or manage the native title for Aboriginal groups. He argues that addressing these requires collaborative involvement of both lawyers and anthropologists in working with Native Title groups in establishing the social and cultural viability of these important corporations.

Common mistakes in PBC design and operation


Pdf of Powerpoint: Dr David Martin: Common mistakes in PBC design and operation: anthropological insights

Short Paper on consultation: Paper Substantive Consultation


General published and unpublished papers relevant to native title anthropology

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Thumbnail for Annotated_Bibliography_Customary_Marine.pdfAnnotated_Bibliography_Customary_Marine.pdf

This annotated bibliography was developed by Adele Millard for CNTA. Its aim is to inform and guide future research for use in Native Title sea claims, particularly in southern Australia.

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Thumbnail for Francesca-Merlan-Paperlet-on-the-Non-Citizen-Non-Alien-Aborigine.pdfFrancesca-Merlan-Paperlet-on-the-Non-Citizen-Non-Alien-Aborigine.pdf

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Thumbnail for Mortimer-J_Re-evaluating-the-role-of-anthropologists-in-native-title-proceedings.pdfMortimer-J_Re-evaluating-the-role-of-anthropologists-in-native-title-proceedings.pdf

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Thumbnail for Nic-Peterson-2017-comments-on-legal-culture.pdfNic-Peterson-2017-comments-on-legal-culture.pdf

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Thumbnail for Nic-Peterson-2018-Innovation-and-native-title.pdfNic-Peterson-2018-Innovation-and-native-title.pdf

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Thumbnail for Nic-Peterson-2019-Law-anthropology-and-policy.pdfNic-Peterson-2019-Law-anthropology-and-policy.pdf

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Thumbnail for Paul-Burke-Warlpiri-Diaspora-and-Native-Title.pdfPaul-Burke-Warlpiri-Diaspora-and-Native-Title.pdf

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Thumbnail for R-Blowes-NTN-article.pdfR-Blowes-NTN-article.pdf

This article, "Getting to native title – roles and important distinctions for anthropologists and advocates\" is by Robert Blowes SC. It was first published by LexisNexis in Native Title News Volume 12 No 8, December 2017. For more information about Native Title News and other LexisNexis subscription titles, please call 1800 772 772 or email

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Thumbnail for Rangiah_J_2016.pdfRangiah_J_2016.pdf

Justice Rangiah, ‘Expert Anthropological Evidence- A Judges Perspective’ (Speech, Future of Native Tittle Anthropology Conference, 4 February 2016) • Importance of writing reports to specific audience with purpose in mind • Communication between lawyer and anthropologist • Agendas of all involved

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Thumbnail for Stephen-Wright-compensation-ppt.pdfStephen-Wright-compensation-ppt.pdf

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Thumbnail for Susan-Phillips-Recognition-of-NT-revision-and-problem-solving.pdfSusan-Phillips-Recognition-of-NT-revision-and-problem-solving.pdf

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Thumbnail for Tom-Gara-Spanish-Flu-SA-Aboriginal-people.pdfTom-Gara-Spanish-Flu-SA-Aboriginal-people.pdf

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Thumbnail for Watt-Kowal-Cummings-2020.pdfWatt-Kowal-Cummings-2020.pdf

"Traditional Laws Meet Emerging Biotechnologies: The Impact of Genetic Genealogy on Indigenous Land Title in Australia", Elizabeth Watt, Emma Kowal, and Carmen Cummings, Human Organization Vol 79 No. 2 Summer 2020. The increasing popularity and availability of genetic testing has the potential to play into debates surrounding Native Title. This paper highlights the importance of disseminating current information about genetic genealogy among Indigenous Australians and having frank conversations about the opportunities and limits of genetic technologies in this context.

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Links to online resources

Anthropological associations in Australia

The Australian Anthropological Society represents the profession at the national level, but there is also the Anthropological Society of Western Australia and the Anthropological Society of South Australia.

Digital Archives:

In the Wiley Online site there is a lot of great material for researchers – tips on publishing for instance, but I draw your attention to the tab labelled ‘Researchers’ (where this portal opens a wealth of diverse material of interest).

In the Wiley digital archives of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, you will see two Collection Archives highlighted – material relating to the Aboriginal Protection Society, and an Ethnographic Photography Library.

Look and listen: online videos and public presentations

Native Title: implications for Australian senses of place

A presentation by Emeritus Professor David Trigger in the 2020 seminar series of the Anthropological Society of Western Australia Native Title: implications for Australian senses of place is now available on YouTube.

Future Forum 2020 – Visions on the future of Aboriginal heritage in Western Australia

This one-day forum was hosted by the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists (AACAI), the Anthropological Society of Western Australia (ASWA), and the Australia International Council on Monuments and Sites (A.ICOMOS) in Fremantle on Friday, 16 October 2020.
The forum brought together First Nations people, Traditional Owners and custodians, representative bodies, industry, consultants, researchers, politicians, Government representatives and other interested parties to explore and discuss what the future of Aboriginal heritage management could look like in Western Australia.
Video recordings for presentations from the Future Forum are available on a YouTube playlist.

New books and publications

Tim Pilbrow has published an article  in The Australian Journal of Anthropology, crafted while he was a CNTA scholar and entitled The integrative value of conflict and dispute: Implications for defining community in the native title context. It can be downloaded from the Wiley site.

Michael Bennett, Mar 2020. The Pathfinders NSW — A History of NSW Aboriginal Trackers (Newsouth Publishing)
Geraldine Doogue interviewed historian Dr Michael Bennett, formerly of NTSCorp, on RN’s Saturday Extra (Saturday 7 March 2020) about this book. In New South Wales alone, more than a thousand Aboriginal men and a smaller number of women toiled for authorities across the state after 1862. Through his work on native title claims, historian Michael Bennett realised that the role of trackers – and how they moved between two worlds – has been largely unacknowledged. His important book reveals that their work grew out of traditional society and was sustained by the vast family networks that endure to this day. Pathfinders brings the skilled and diverse work of trackers not only to the forefront of law enforcement history but to the general shared histories of black and white Australia.

Georgia Curran, 2020. Sustaining Indigenous Songs: contemporary Warlpiri ceremonial life in central Australia (Berghahn)
From the back cover: ‘As an ethnography of Central Australian singing traditions and ceremonial contexts, this book asks questions about the vitality of the cultural knowledge and practices highly valued by Warlpiri people and fundamental to their cultural heritage. Set against a discussion of the contemporary vitality of Aboriginal musical traditions in Australia and embedded in the historical background of this region, the book lays out the features of Warlpiri songs and ceremonies, and centres on a focal case study of the Warlpiri Kurdiji ceremony to illustrate the modes in which core cultural themes are being passed on through song to future generations.’