Prescribed Bodies Corporate: Research Action Partnerships

Project status: 

The Native Title Research Unit (NTRU) has entered into a number of action based research partnerships with RNTBCs across Australia to provide assistance and develop a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities that RNTBCs currently face in a range of situations. Partnerships involve the Torres Strait Prescribed Bodies Corporates, Djabugay Native Title Aboriginal Corporation, Karajarri Traditional Lands Association and the Gunditjmara people.

One of the outcomes of a three-year AIATSIS research project on Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate (RNTBCs) is the new publication Living with native title: the experiences of registered native title corporations edited by Toni Bauman, Lisa M Strelein and Jessica K Weir. The experiences of RNTBCs remain a significant research agenda for AIATSIS including the PBC Support Project.

Living with native title: the experiences of registered native title corporations documents the experiences of native title holders and the corporations they have established to look after their native title interests. RNTBCs operate in a profoundly intercultural context, where ‘western’ and Indigenous laws are constantly being interpreted and negotiated as part of generating a new suite of land management and holding practices for contemporary Australia. The introduction and overview chapters provide further information on the RNTBC regime, the RNTBC review and reform process, other findings from AIATSIS’s long-term research with RNTBCs, and an analysis of the key issues from the case studies.

Torres Strait

Badu, April 2009: Image courtsey of Lisa Strelein
Badu, April 2009

​AIATSIS assisted with the planning and facilitation of four meetings and workshops for RNTBCs in the Torres Strait between December 2007 and June 2009.  This partnership was prompted by a visit to the Torres Strait by Dr Lisa Strelein in June 2007 and discussions were held with Torres Strait Regional Authority staff about support for RNTBCs.

The initial meeting of all of the Native Title bodies in the Torres Strait was held in December 2007 on Thursday Island. Since then RNTBCs have met regularly: in April/May 2008 at Masig, in March/April 2009 at Badu and then again on Thursday Island from 15 – 19 June 2009.  The meetings have focused on the role of Native Title in the region and the relationship with the community and other governance bodies, including the TSRA and the newly established Torres Strait Regional Council.  A number of discussions have also focused on new government funding and partnership opportunities and governance and business planning.

Representatives of Torres Strait RNTBCs also made presentations to the National Native Title Conference from 2007-2009.  Download further information about Torres Strait RNTBCs:


AIATSIS has been working in a research action partnership with the Djabugay Native Title Aboriginal Corporation north of Cairns in and around Kuranda. The Djabugay have a non-exclusive determination over the Barron Gorge National Park.


In April 2008, Research Fellow Ms Toni Bauman undertook fieldwork with the Djabugay providing assistance in a range of areas including: establishing the Djabugay office, preparing funding submissions, attending governing committee meetings and assisting the Djabugay in responding to a draft plan of management for the Barron Gorge National Park.

Djabugay representatives made presentations to the National Native Title Conferences in 2008 and 2009:

  • Hobbler, G and Brim, R, Up Barron Gorge without a paddle: The Djabugay experience  [pdf] 11.9MB, PowerPoint presentation to the National Native Title Conference, Perth, 4 June 2008, Djabugay Native Title Corporation.
  • Brim, T, Hunter, B and Hunter, T, ‘New Beginnings: Djabugay’ (3.37MB), PowerPoint presentation to the National Native Title Conference, 2 June 2009, Djabugay Native Title Corporation.

In September 2008, AIATSIS and the Minerals Council of Australia sponsored a planning workshop with the Djabugay Native Title Corporation. The workshop was facilitated by Bushwork Consultants, and provided the basis for Bushwork’s ‘wiki’ on-line Djabugay ‘Roadmap’ planning document - Building Djabugay Foundations.   The Roadmap is intended as a living document to inform Directors of the Djabugay RNTBC about particular issues at each of their meetings. It also provided the basis for the Djabugay 2008 AGM agenda. It provides options and recommendations for their discussion over time and additions and changes can be made on a regular basis.  The planning workshop provided the basis of a PowerPoint presentation to the Djabugay Annual General Meeting in December 2008: 

Djabugay Native Title Corporation, ‘Building Djabugay Foundations: Summary of a 3 day workshop 26 – 28 September 2008’  (1.66MB), PowerPoint presentation to Djabugay Annual General Meeting, December 2008.

Download further information about Djabugay Native Title Corporation:


Research Fellow Dr Jessica Weir has been working with Karajarri Native Title holders and their RNTBC the Karajarri Traditional Lands Association (KTLA).  Karajarri country is in the West Kimberley, south of Broome.  The Karajarri have Native Title over 31,000 square kilometres of their country, as recognised by consent determinations in 2002 and 2004.  As part of the research action partnership, AISTSIS worked with the KTLA to develop planning tools, streamline office processes and prepare funding submissions. 

AIATSIS and the Minerals Council of Australia sponsored two planning workshops with the KTLA and the contracting of a consultant business planner in 2008. A planning day for KTLA businesses took place on 6 May 2008 in Bidyadanga and a second ‘Office Workshop’ was held on 11 November 2008 to consider how the office could best assist broader KTLA responsibilities and aspirations.  These workshops involved a business planning process intended to form the basis of a KTLA Economic Sustainability and Development Opportunities framework.

  • Hopiga J and Blackwood J. 2008 'The Survival of Land and Sea Units'  [pdf]  639 Kb, Native Title Newsletter, November/December 2008, No.6/2008, pp.2-5.
  • Mulardy M. 2008 'Traditional Owner Comment'  [pdf]  780Kb, Native Title Newsletter, September/October 2008, No.5/2008,  pp.2-3.  
  • Weir, JK 2007, ‘Native Title and governance: The emerging corporate sector prescribed for native title holders’, Land, Rights, Laws: Issues of Native Title, vol. 3, no. 9, 2007.
  • Weir, JK, Karajarri: a West Kimberley experience in managing Native Title, AIATSIS Research Discussion Paper, no. 30, AIATSIS, Canberra, 2011.


The Gunditjmara Land Justice Story is a case study of the land justice experiences of the Gunditjmara people in the 1980s and their present day recognition of Native Title. The legal significance of the 1984 High Court Onus v Alcoa decision and the language the State of Victoria used in the Preamble to the Lake Condah legislation, are often overlooked in the history of land rights and Native Title in Australia. These outcomes sit alongside other well known benchmarks in our land rights history, including the Gurindji strike in 1966 (also known as the Wave Hill Walk-Off) and the land claim that led to the development of land rights legislation in the Northern Territory. The Gunditjmara Land Justice Story also considers the possibilities and limitations of Native Title within the broader context of land justice. 

The project commenced following an invitation from Mr Damein Bell, Chairman of the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC. It involved fieldwork conducted on Gunditjmara country and included interviews with a number of Gunditjmara people. The Gunditjmara Land Justice Story interweaves the stories of the Gunditjmara with those of the broader community as well as political and legal arguments. 

The Gunditjmara Land Story was published by AIATSIS in June 2009. A DVD-Rom filmed and produced by Ms Amy Williams of AIATSIS is included in the publication (the DVD-Rom is not available online).

Download publication: 

  • Weir, J.K. 2009 The Gunditjmara Land Justice Story  (2.61 MB), Native Title Research Unit, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra.

Prescribed Bodies Corporate: Workshops

Bardi Jawi Governance Project Workshop #1, Broome, 17-18 May 2011

The Bardi Jawi Governance Project is a joint initiative of the Bardi Jawi PBC and the three community councils – Ardyaloon, Djarindjin and Lombadina. The project is supported by the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) and the FaHCSIA Remote Service Delivery (RSD) Program. The project has funding from the Remote Service Delivery Special Account (FaHCSIA) and aims to achieve outcomes identified as part of the Local Implementation Plan (LIP). The LIP for the Bardi Jawi area includes this important project as its first priority under the Governance and Leadership Building Block.

Toni Bauman and Lisa Strelein were invited to facilitate the first workshop for the Bardi Jawi Governance Project, which was attended by members of the Bardi Jawi PBC and Lombadina, Djarindjin & Ardyaloon community councils; Bruce Gorring from the Nulungu Centre for Indigenous Studies; Tyronne Garstone, a KLC consultant; Richard Aspinall, FaHCSIA State Manager for Western Australia; and Rob Baker from the Lands Branch of the Department of Indigenous Affairs.

North Queensland Land Council Governance Workshop, Cairns, 10-11 July 2010

Dr Strelein was invited to be a co-facilitator of the North Queensland Land Council’s Governance workshop, which was held over 10-11 July. Dr Strelein also provided a presentation on tax, business planning and fees for service at this workshop.

  • Strelein, LM 2010, ‘The business of Native Title – tax, business planning and fees for service’, Governance workshop, North Queensland Land Council, 10-11 July.

Research team

Last reviewed: 18 Apr 2016