Indigenous Trusts and Organisations

Indigenous Trusts & Organisations

Our Indigenous Organisations specialist team works with clients throughout the life cycle of their projects. With comprehensive expertise and industry knowledge, we provide consistent high quality advice to ensure compliance with all relevant legislation to manage our clients’ corporate objectives and commercial requirements.

With quality advice we apply best practice strategies so that our clients comply with contractual, regulatory and governance requirements. Our clients build enduring relationships with Indigenous stakeholders through our extensive network and relationships with key decision making authorities in the industry.

Our team understands the issues related to changes in legislation and has a track record in advising clients across Australia including regional and remote areas.We are equipped with an expert team that respond immediately to issues that our clients may face at any stage of their projects.

We advise and act for a wide range of clients including Aboriginal corporations, prescribed bodies corporate and registered native title bodies corporate, Indigenous controlled trusts, professional trustees of Indigenous trusts, Indigenous businesses, Indigenous community and services organisations, government bodies, land councils and native title representative bodies, private bodies, and resource companies.    

Our core capabilities in Indigenous Trusts & Organisations include:

  • Establish and implement trusts and corporate structures

  • Advise on business, commercial and economic development opportunities and projects

  • Draft commercial contractual documentation, shareholders and joint venture agreements

  • Assist engagement with third parties such as government, private enterprise and service providers

  • Corporate governance support and development

  • Intellectual property management and protection

  • Employment law advice, assistance with employment contracts and advice on termination of employment

  • Advice on funding regimes and agreements

  • Public policy development

  • Taxation advice, endorsement and exemptions

  • Specialist property, construction and mining and resources law advice.

Corporate Structure

  • We provided advice in relation to the most appropriate structure for the various Buurabalayji Thalanyji Aboriginal Corporation entities to carry on business having regard to, ORIC requirements, taxation implications, and legal implications.

Project Development

  • We provided advice regarding a Royalties for Regions Financial Assistance Agreement providing funding for Kariyarra Mugarinya Developments Pty Ltd to undertake a land development project.

Joint Venture Advice

  • We provided advice on two joint venture proposals – a commercial laundry opportunity and a construction business. We provided advice on the structure of the joint venture, the nature of the documentation required and the manner in which the joint ventures would operate.

  • We advised Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation in relation to the structure of NAC’s Member Services Program (MSP), the contents of the guidelines to the MSP and the corporate structure and operation of the MSP having regard to the applicable tax law requirements.  

Commercial Advice

  • We advised Martu Limited on Centrelink implications in respect of payments made to beneficiaries of charitable and non-charitable trusts.


  • We have acted for a range of native title groups and proponents in the negotiation, drafting and implementation of corporate structures and benefits management structures arising under Indigenous land use agreements. 
  • We assisted Traditional Owners via a Land Council in relation to a Final Agreement between the Traditional Owners and the State of Western Australia, including the governance structure for an Aboriginal Corporation and its related entities.

  • We assisted Traditional Owners to establish an Aboriginal Corporation and related trusts and assisted the Aboriginal Corporation to implement the Aboriginal Development Package under the Final Agreement, including reviewing and advising on the Financial Assistance Agreement between the Aboriginal Corporation and the State of Western Australia.


  • We assisted with the establishment and implementation of multiple trusts, Aboriginal corporations, proprietary limited companies and public companies limited by guarantee.


  • We have prepared suites of employment contracts.

Adam Levin

Lead Partner

+61 8 9426 6753
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Emma Chinnery

Special Counsel

+61 8 9426 6739
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David Murphy

Special Counsel

+61 8 9426 6748
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  • 3 April 2018

    Providing housing assistance to Aboriginal people – are rates payable?

    The State Administrative Tribunal recently found that local government rates are not payable on land that is used to provide housing assistance to Aboriginal people where the property is leased on a cost recovery basis.  This could represent significant savings to your charitable organisation.

    Authors: Adam Levin, Alana Schwartz

    LINK 49 Bytes

  • 15 January 2018

    2018 - Tips for a strong start

    2018 is set to be a big year. Now is the time to ensure that your organisation is best placed to make the most of the year and take advantage of the many exciting opportunities.
    Our top tips will help you start the year strong and position your organisation for a successful year ahead.

    Authors: Emma Chinnery, Adam Levin, Alana Schwartz

    LINK 39 Bytes

  • 8 October 2017

    AGM Season - preparation is key

    AGM season is well and truly upon us and, if you haven’t already, it’s time to start planning. 
    Learn the basics of an AGM – When? Where? Who? Why? What?

    Authors: Emma Chinnery, Alana Schwartz

    LINK 35 Bytes

  • 16 June 2017

    Amendments to the Native Title Act - reversing the McGlade Decision

    The Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 (Bill) was passed by both houses of Parliament on Wednesday, 14 June 2017.

    The Bill reverses the impact of the Federal Court's decision in the McGlade case (McGlade Decision) and seeks to provide the sector with certainty regarding the execution of the indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs).

    Author: Adam Levin

    LINK 38 Bytes

  • 2 March 2017

    Exploitation of Indigenous Culture Bill introduced

    A Private Members bill has been introduced to Federal Parliament entitled Competition and Consumer Amendment (Exploitation of Indigenous Culture) Bill 2017 (Bill).

    The purpose of the Bill is to prevent non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders and foreigners benefitting from the sale of Indigenous art, souvenir items and other cultural items and thereby depriving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of the rightful benefits of their culture.

    Author: Adam Levin

    LINK 39 Bytes

  • 4 November 2016

    Registrar v Monaghan - Key messages for your corporation

    On 20 September 2016, the Federal Court of Australia handed down its judgment in the case of Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations v Monaghan (No 2) [2016] FCA 1143 (Monaghan Case).

    The Monaghan Case raises a number of crucial points that all Aboriginal corporations should be aware of. In particular, the case serves as an important reminder of the need for directors and officers to have appropriate corporate governance training and experience.

    Author: Adam Levin

    LINK 39 Bytes

  • 4 October 2016

    AGMs for Aboriginal Corporations

    Annual general meeting (AGM) season is upon us and, if you haven’t already, it’s time to start planning.  Better decisions are made if a meeting is well planned, runs smoothly and different points of view can be properly heard.
    Understanding the rules that you must follow in planning and running your AGM is crucial.  
    In this article we provide some simple answers to common questions – when, where, who, why and what?

    Author: Adam Levin

    LINK 38 Bytes

  • 15 May 2016

    The Aboriginal Governance and Leadership Program is open for applications

    The Aboriginal Governance and Leadership Program is open for applications

    The State Government has this month announced funding of $2.3 million for an Aboriginal Governance and Leadership Program for regional Western Australia.

    The Program delivers grants to eligible Aboriginal businesses in WA's regional and remote locations to assist with improving their governance practices.  It provides access to professional assistance to support businesses to strengthen their financial management and strategic decision making.

    $60,000 is available to Aboriginal businesses to engage qualified service providers.  Jackson McDonald is a qualified service provider.

    We encourage Aboriginal businesses to contact us on 9426 6871 (Alana Bernstein) or 9426 6739 (Emma Chinnery) to discuss how we might assist with the Program.

    Applications close on Thursday 9 June 2016.

    Authors: Emma Chinnery, Adam Levin

    LINK 30 Bytes

  • 16 March 2016

    Sandy v YAC – key messages for your corporation

    Last week, the Supreme Court of WA handed down its judgment in the case of Sandy v Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC [No 2] [2016] WASC 75 (YAC Case). 

    The YAC Case raises a number of crucial points that all Aboriginal Corporations should be aware of.  Most importantly, the YAC Case should serve as a reminder of why corporations need to follow their Rulebook and the provisions of the CATSI Act.  

    This article features the five key messages we took from the YAC Case. 

    Author: Adam Levin

    LINK 41 Bytes

  • 18 January 2016

    Related Party Benefits & CATSI Act Corporations

    Corporations registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander) Act 2006 (Cth) (CATSI Act), cannot give a financial benefit to a related party without the approval of that corporation’s members.

    While this may seem like a simple principle, the relevant provisions of the CATSI Act are complex and not widely understood within the sector.

    • Who is a related party, when everyone within the community is family?
    • What is a financial benefit?
    • Are there any exceptions to the rule?

    With individuals involved in breaches personally liable for penalties of up to $220,000 and five years imprisonment, it’s critical that you understand the rules and develop procedures to ensure compliance.

    This 3 part series provides a guide to assist CATSI Act corporations to understand and manage related party benefits transactions. Parts 1 – 3 include:

    PART 1 – Breaking down the rules
    PART 2 – Exceptions and Exemptions
    PART 3 – Tips for complying with the rules

    Author: Adam Levin

    LINK 38 Bytes

  • 1 April 2014

    Extinguishment by WA mining leases

    On 12 March 2014, the High Court of Australia handed down its decision in Western Australia v Brown [2014] HCA 8 ( Brown ). The decision is a critical development in relation to the survival of native title, as the High Court found that the construction of a town and a mining pit did not extinguish native title. The High Court in Brown overturned the decision of the Full Federal Court in De Rose (No. 2) (2005) 145 FCR 290 ( De Rose ), where it was held that the construction of improvements such as a homestead or sheds on a pastoral lease extinguished native title at the time those improvements were constructed.

    To read more about the extinguishment of native title, please click here.

    Author: Adam Levin

    Download PDF 70 Bytes

  • 24 May 2012

    Jackson McDonald 5th time Perth Law Firm of the Year

    Jackson McDonald consolidated its position as the leading West Australian law firm when named Perth Law Firm of the Year at the 2012 ALB Australasian Law Awards in Sydney on 24 May 2012.

    It is the fifth year out of six that Jackson McDonald has won this prestigious award.


    Download PDF 304 Bytes

  • 25 January 2012

    The Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth)

    The Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth) (“Act”) creates a single national law governing security interests and similar transactions with respect to many different
    kinds of tangible and intangible property, other than real property. The scheme under the Act commenced on 30 January 2012.

    Author: Will Moncrieff

    Download PDF 467 Bytes

  • 9 January 2011

    Doing Business in Asia Pacific

    Jackson McDonald is a proud member of Globalaw and has assisted in the development of this guide.


    Download PDF 4 Bytes