The 2024 NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) Election is just around the corner and it is a critical opportunity for Aboriginal people in NSW to vote for change.
The region’s current state of Indigenous affairs demands a fresh perspective and new leadership that can address the pressing issues facing our communities.
And despite the existence of a “Voice to Parliament” in NSW, the promised positive change has not materialised.
It’s time to take a closer look at Charles Lynch‘s tenure as a Northern Region Councillor and understand why Aboriginal people in NSW should vote for change in the upcoming election.
Questioning NSWALC’s Financial Transparency
The NSWALC’s annual report reveals a significant operating budget, but where is the money going?
Their latest financial reports raise serious concerns about the allocation of funds, with a substantial portion being spent on internal staff and other expenses. Meanwhile, grants for Local Aboriginal Land Councils, the backbone of community support, receive only a fraction of the budget.
This begs the question: What are we getting in return for these financial investments?
- Employee expenses of $24,378,000.00 almost eclipse the money they give to the 120 Local Aboriginal Councils who do the (very) large majority of work in communities but only receive a few mil extra at $29,949,000.00.
- ‘All other expenses’ is an extra $16,907,000… business class flights expensive these days? 🤔
- Substantial financial losses amounting to tens of millions of dollars have been incurred by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident confined to a single year. The council has been plagued by significant financial mismanagement, resulting in the erosion of Aboriginal funds over an extended period.
NSW Aboriginal Land Council’s Statutory Investment Fund (SIF)
The Statutory Investment Fund (the SIF) was established as part of the ALRA and resourced for 15 years with an annual amount equal to 7.5 per cent of NSW land tax on non-residential land. All government contributions to the SIF ceased in 1998.ANNUAL REPORT 2021–2022 – Parliament of NSW
SIF is responsible for resourcing the operations of NSWALC and its network of 120 Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs), is under the stewardship of the Council of NSWALC. As of June 30, 2022, the SIF had a valuation of $598.7 million, marking a substantial decrease of $68.5 million for the 2021-22 financial year.
The Council, under his watch for the Northern Region of NSW, has seen the Aboriginal reparations fund suffer a decline amounting to tens of millions of dollars and this disheartening financial trend calls for a closer examination of Councillor Lynch’s leadership and its impact on the LALCs that he represents.
The Urgent Need for Accountability
The lack of transparency and accountability is alarming.
The current state of affairs raises numerous questions about the allocation of funds within NSWALC, and the sale of valuable community assets and the utilisation of financial resources should be done with utmost transparency and in the best interest of Aboriginal communities.
Unfortunately, the lack of clarity and disclosure surrounding these matters raises suspicions and erodes trust in the institution.
We deserve answers from the NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Labor’s David Harris, regarding the wasted funds and the impact on communities.
To address these concerns, it is crucial that David Harris, NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, takes swift action to ensure accountability within the minister’s portfolio.
And it’s imperative that an independent audit be conducted to shed light on the financial management practices of the council, which should thoroughly examine expenditure, asset sales, and overall financial decision-making processes.
Furthermore, the NSWALC must establish clear mechanisms for community input and participation in financial decision-making.
Aboriginal communities should have a say in how their funds are allocated and be provided with regular reports outlining the council’s financial status. And by promoting transparency and accountability, the NSWALC can regain the trust of Aboriginal communities and work towards meaningful and sustainable change.
NSWALC must be held responsible for its actions and decisions, which is why mob must vote for change at the next NSW Aboriginal Land Council Election.
Support for Local Aboriginal Land Councils
Local Aboriginal Land Councils play a crucial role in supporting communities and addressing their needs but many LALCs across NSW struggle to receive adequate support and resources from the NSWALC.
The parent body’s lack of commitment and assistance raises concerns about its effectiveness and ability to serve Aboriginal communities effectively.
The Call for ICAC Investigation
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) should be called upon to investigate the NSWALC due to mismanagement and potential corruption concerns.
If any other council operated in a similar manner, it would face severe consequences.
NSWALC should not be exempt from scrutiny, especially when it jeopardises the well-being of First Nations communities.
The Disparity between Promises and Reality
The “Voice to Parliament” initiative promised positive change for Indigenous communities, yet the disparity gaps persist in NSW and Aboriginal people are left wondering if this initiative will deliver tangible results or remain an empty promise.
For many years, there has been a growing sense of disappointment and frustration among Aboriginal communities in NSW regarding the lack of progress in closing the disparity gaps. Despite promises and commitments made by NSWALC and other government departments, the reality on the ground tells a different story.
And the inadequacy of NSW’s “Voice to Parliament” in delivering tangible and meaningful transformation is a critical issue at hand.
This initiative was supposed to provide Aboriginal communities with a platform to voice their concerns and influence policy decisions but it has fallen short of expectations, with limited impact on addressing the pressing issues faced by Aboriginal communities.
Another concerning aspect is the mismanagement of funds allocated to Aboriginal programs and initiatives because despite significant financial resources being allocated to the NSWALC, there is a lack of transparency and accountability regarding how these funds are utilised.
This raises questions about the effectiveness of the financial management practices within the council and whether the allocated funds are reaching the communities in need.
The Minns Government’s intervention is urgently needed to address the shortcomings and ensure real progress is made.
Vote for Change at the NSW Aboriginal Land Council Election
The upcoming NSW Aboriginal Land Council Election election presents a crucial opportunity for Aboriginal people in NSW to exercise their democratic rights and vote for change.
And it’s a chance to reshape the leadership and direction of the council, ensuring that the voices and concerns of Aboriginal communities are heard and addressed.
But it’s time to assess track records, hold leaders accountable, and choose candidates who are genuinely committed to the well-being and empowerment of Aboriginal communities. It’s an opportunity to elect leaders who will prioritise the needs and aspirations of Aboriginal communities, and actively work towards closing the disparity gaps that exist.
Example: Charles Lynch‘s tenure raises concerns about leadership and the ability to effectively address the challenges faced by Aboriginal communities in the Northern Region.
The 2024 NSW Aboriginal Land Council Election is a crucial moment for Aboriginal people in NSW to shape the future of the Land Council and its impact on our communities.
The need for transparency, accountability, and improved governance practices is evident.
By voting for change and supporting candidates with a proven commitment to action, we can pave the way for a brighter future where the voices of Aboriginal communities are truly heard and their needs are effectively