Governance

NPY Women’s Council Governance

Membership of NPYWC is open to any Aboriginal woman who is at least sixteen years of age, from the NPY region, and or whom the Directors consider to have sufficient cultural or family ties to the region.

Incorporation

From its beginning in 1980 until June 1994, Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council was an unincorporated association and came under the auspices of the Pitjantjatjara Council Inc. In 1994 it incorporated under the federal Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 (ACA Act.) The original membership application nominated 25 women from the ‘three sides’ of the NPY region. The register of members in 2010 contained more than 300 names.

In 2007 the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) replaced the ACA Act. The CATSI Act in large part reflects the Corporations law, and places comprehensive reporting requirements on the organisation, and strict duties on elected Directors and staff, in particular senior staff.

These duties include:

  • care and diligence;
  • good faith;
  • disclosure of material personal interests;
  • not to improperly use position or information; and
  • to prevent insolvent trading.

Guiding Principles

During the period of consultation with the members to change the Constitution, the members’ inserted new guiding principles to provide over-arching guidelines for members and employees of the Council, these are:

  • ngapartji ngapartji kulinma munu iwara wananma tjukarurungku- respect each other and follow the law straight
  • kalypangku- conciliatory
  • piluntjungku -peaceful and calm
  • kututu mukulyangku -kind-hearted
  • tjungungku -united
  • kunpungku -strong

Regulation

The Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) is the regulatory body for the thousands of Aboriginal Corporations registered under the Act, including NPY Women’s Council. NPYWC is classified as a large organisation due to its level of income and number of staff, and this determines the extent of reporting that must be done each year. The Constitution or Rule Book, membership list, independently audited financial reports and other information about the corporation can be found on the ORIC website .

NPYWC also produces an annual report which can be found on this website.

Membership and participation

Membership of NPYWC is open to any Aboriginal woman who is at least sixteen years of age, from the NPY region, and or whom the Directors consider to have sufficient cultural or family ties to the region. Some members, for example, must live in Alice Springs due to their own or a family member’s need for medical treatment such as renal dialysis. An applicant must be deemed by the Directors to be of good character and willing to follow the rules and guiding principles of the organisation.

Under the CATSI Act the organisation must have between five and twelve elected Directors. There are usually twelve, chosen by secret ballot every two years at an AGM, with equal representation from each of the WA, SA and NT sectors of the NPY area.

The Directors meet four or five times a year to provide policy input and direction and receive reports on the work of the various NPYWC programs, progress on particular issues of interest or advocacy matters, and the corporation’s financial status. Operations are overseen by the Co-ordinator, the equivalent to a CEO. Directors, especially the Chairwoman, also assist the Co-ordinator and other senior staff with advice and represent the organisation as required.

All members are invited to attend an AGM and at least one other general meeting each year in a bush location, to receive reports from Directors and staff and to provide referrals, responses to service delivery and ongoing input on issues that affect them and their families.

It can be very challenging for the women, whose first language is not English, to keep abreast of the requirements of NPYWC’s many funding bodies, the rules that govern the financial management of approximately seven millions of dollars annually and their duties under the CATSI Act.

Directors Duties

On commencement of their two year term Directors receive an orientation which includes providing Directors information which confirms their duties and responsibilities as a NPY Women’s Council Director and the structure programs of the Council. This training is delivered by ORIC or a comparable qualified trainer. NPYWC has worked with ORIC to design and run governance training specifically geared to the members’ needs and to their literacy and educational levels. It has also produced a list of fifty governance terms translated into Pitjantjatjara to assist Directors in understanding the Act and their obligations.