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Being a leader at any level requires a careful balance between focusing on the bigger picture and dealing with issues at a grassroots level. For Aboriginal “leaders” like Councillor Charles Lynch of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, the struggle to maintain this balance seems evident.

Whilst having the significant responsibility of international representation (flying over to the United Nations & representing Aboriginal people), the issues that plague the communities within his local jurisdiction tell a different story.

Charles Lynch, the Councillor for the Northern Region at the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, holds a distinctive position within the council. Alongside his domestic responsibilities, he had an active role in international representation, attending significant meetings at the United Nations.

And while his international involvement helped to bring global attention to Indigenous rights and issues, it appears that some local challenges under his jurisdiction were left unresolved.

First Local Aboriginal Land Council in Administration under Charles Lynch’s watch

One of the most pressing of these local issues pertains to the Red Chief Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC).

For the first time in nearly 20 years, a LALC was placed under administration during his tenure. This circumstance, unprecedented in recent history, serves as a stark reminder of the pressing issues within the Northern Region.

As per the admission (below) of Councillor Lynch himself, at least four LALCs in the region, including the Red Chief LALC, were deemed high-risk and faced significant challenges.

Thanks Dean only RCLALC 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 Lynch, Councillor for Northern Region at the NSW Aboriginal Land Council

The placement of a LALC under administration is not a trivial matter.

Red Chief Local Aboriginal Land Council - Charles Lynch

It indicates serious governance issues that, if left unaddressed, can jeopardise the council’s functionality, affecting the well-being and rights of the Aboriginal communities it serves. Unfortunately, it appears that, amidst his international duties, Councillor Lynch might not have been able to prioritise the necessary efforts to restore the functionality and effectiveness of these LALCs.

In contrast, before Councillor Lynch’s appointment, the 14 Local Aboriginal Land Councils within the region were reportedly operating efficiently and effectively without any need for an administrator for many years…

The unfortunate turn of events during his tenure raises pressing questions about his capacity to balance international representation with the pressing needs of his local jurisdiction.

While international advocacy for Indigenous rights is undeniably important, it should not overshadow the pressing need to address local issues effectively.

“Leaders” like Councillor Lynch must find the right balance between amplifying their voices on the global stage and tending to the pressing issues that exist within their communities.

As we delve into the tenure of Councillor Lynch, it becomes clear that this balancing act was not always well-managed. The local communities suffered as a result. The story of the Red Chief LALC is just one such example that demonstrates the potentially adverse consequences of failing to address local challenges whilst focusing on international representation.

The predicament of Councillor Lynch serves as a stark reminder for all in positions of leadership: the need to balance the focus on international advocacy with the resolution of local issues. The health of our communities depends on it.

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council’s Statutory Investment Fund (SIF)

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.

Reflecting on the eight-year tenure of Councillor Charles Lynch, not only has there been the unprecedented placement of a Local Aboriginal Land Council under administration for the first time in almost twenty years, but there has also been significant financial loss under his leadership.

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.

Charles Lynch

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