Co-designing benefits management structures: A summary overview

Ian Murray, Joe Fardin and James O’Hara

Australia has seen an expansion in the number and size of resource and other projects affecting Indigenous land, coupled with ongoing recognition of Indigenous interests through native title and other related processes.

A significant result of this activity has been the formation and operation of ‘benefits management structures’ (BMSs). BMSs are structures that receive payments from land use agreements and that hold and distribute assets for Indigenous peoples and groups. As the term BMS is widely used in Australia by resource proponents and Indigenous communities we have also adopted it even though it is controversial to label payments connected with acts that impair native title rights as ‘benefits’.

This overview:

  • Examines the structure, operation and purposes of BMSs.
  • Reviews general research on the structure and operation of Indigenous organisations.
  • Identifies key issues raised in practice by BMSs.
  • Builds on the key issues for BMSs and the information that currently exists about Indigenous organisations by offering 12 design considerations that can guide the design or review of a BMS. It does so starting from a neoinstitutional framework, but as informed by stakeholder feedback.
  • Applies the design considerations to an example BMS, the ‘pilot BMS’, based on a common structure in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. This pilot BMS shows how the design considerations work, where improvements can be made and potential examples of ‘best practice’.
  • Employs the design considerations to develop a range of more general best practice approaches, in response to several of the key issues raised and the areas for improvement and ‘best practice’ examples.

Murray, I., Fardin, J., & O'Hara, J. (2019). Co-designing benefits management structures. Perth: UWA Centre for Mining, Energy and Natural Resources Law.

UWA Centre for Mining, Energy and Natural Resources Law
Co-designing benefits management structures: A summary overview