Open letter to Sefa
Dear Members of the Sefa Board,
I hope this message finds you in good health and high spirits, but I’m writing to express my deep-seated concerns regarding the appointment of Mr. Charles Lynch to the Sefa Board.
To preface, I wholly acknowledge and appreciate the Board’s constant pursuit of aligning Sefa with highly experienced members from a myriad of sector expertise but with due respect to the Members at Sefa who vetted and approved Mr. Lynch’s appointment, it is crucial that we address the possible implications of this decision, given the broader context of his leadership track record.
As you might be aware, Charles Lynch succeeded Councillor Briggs as the representative for the Northern Region in the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC).
But despite the strong foundation established by Councillor Briggs, as affirmed by Mr. Lynch himself in 2016, there are several alarming issues that have arisen during Mr. Lynch’s tenure that cannot be overlooked.
1. Financial Discrepancies: The recent financial revelations from the NSWALC indicate potential mismanagement with employee expenses reaching an exorbitant $24.4 million, almost matching the $29.9 million dedicated to 120 LALCs, and there are inevitable questions about the judiciousness of these fund allocations. Additionally, the vague classification of “all other expenses” amounting to $16.9 million further exacerbates concerns.
2. Declining Fund Value: The NSWALC Statutory Investment Fund (SIF), designed to sustain both the NSWALC and its network of LALCs, has seen an alarming decrease. As of June 30, 2022, the fund’s valuation had plummeted by $68.5 million from the previous fiscal year, settling at $598.7 million.
As far as I know, SIF is directly controlled by the NSWALC Council, of which Charles is a Councillor…
3. Governance Concerns: The case of the Red Chief Local Aboriginal Land Council (RCLALC) being the only LALC under administration among the fourteen in the Northern Region further casts a shadow over Mr. Lynch’s oversight and leadership capabilities.
Charles Lynch’s quote from 2016…
“The fact that all of them (Local Aboriginal Land Councils, Northern Region NSW), have a really good platform to work off, they’re stable… there in a very good position to take up the next lot of challenges whether it be economic development or you know, and enhancing or establishing clear Community Land and Business plans for their communities. I just think they’re in good stead.”
Compared to 2023…
“Only RCLALC (Red Chief Local Aboriginal Land Council) has an administrator their are 14 LALCS in Northern Region this is the first Administrators appointment on this Region for almost twenty years I don’t have current figures on High Risk LALCS but believe four which can be for various reasons…”
Charles stated he would verify the precise count of high-risk LALCs as he wasn’t certain of the exact figure, but I’ve received no response from him since the 13th of January 2023.
In summary, I firmly believe in the values and mission that Sefa stands for – unlocking social impact and driving purpose-driven growth, which is why it’s imperative that the board comprises members who not only possess rich experience and expertise but also demonstrate impeccable governance and fiscal prudence.
Given Mr. Lynch’s track record, I’m genuinely concerned about his capacity to uphold these tenets and consequently, the potential repercussions his appointment might bring to Sefa’s reputation and operations.
I kindly urge the Board and other relevant Members to reconsider this appointment, taking into account the broader implications for Sefa’s integrity, impact, and stakeholder trust.
I trust the Board’s commitment to Sefa’s values and vision and hope this concern will be addressed with the gravitas it warrants.
Concerned Aboriginal Member of the Northern Region