Gender and generation in native title: director demographics and the future of prescribed bodies corporate

Thursday, 18 June 2015
Geoff Buchanan

This paper explores gender and generational issues in native title governance. It focuses specifically on the gender and age of directors on the boards of Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs); the corporations established to hold and/ or manage native title rights and interests.

In relation to gender, a predominant view persists of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women as being excluded or marginalised in native title. Statistical data reveals that women’s representation on PBC boards is higher than that found in mainstream sectors while the literature reveals a complex picture of cultural, historical, demographic, institutional and
intercultural factors that influence men’s and women’s participation and power in the native title arena. In relation to generational issues, a key concern relates to the relatively low number of older people and the growing number of young people in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Viewed in relation to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
population and projected changes, the pool of potential PBC directors looks likely to grow in coming years. Despite
this, a failure to adequately invest in education, training, employment and the intergenerational transfer of knowledge
might result in a demographic disaster rather than a demographic dividend for native title holders.