An audit report into the Northern Territory’s Land Councils highlights the need for urgent action to ensure some of Australia’s most marginalised people are not being silenced.
The Auditor General’s report titled Governance of the Northern Land Council notes poor-record keeping, a failure to implement a fraud and corruption policy and that is has not meet a commitment it gave to the Minister for Indigenous Australians and the community. The report was overdue and is the latest in a series of audit reports of the Northern Territory’s Land Councils.
The Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians and Senator for the Northern Territory, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price says these reports have given the Government all that it needs to kick start a formal review.
“This is not about the Voice campaign,” said Senator Nampijinpa Price.
“I am calling on Minister Burney to take real action for our most marginalised Australians who depend on these organisations each and every day.
“If you receive public money, the public expects value for it in return. That goes for communities like Ngukurr in Arnhem Land, who depend on their Land Council to deliver services, to maintain their property and to accurately represent their interests.”
One of the most alarming findings in this report states:
“… it is not clear if reporting channels are confidential, and the NLC does not have a formal mechanism for recording incidents of fraud or suspected fraud. ”
Senator Nampijinpa Price said this was not surprising and is one of the reasons behind the push from the Opposition and Senators on the crossbench to force a Senate Inquiry.
“Our offices receive complaints from people who are too afraid to raise them elsewhere at fear of being silenced and further marginalised.
“It is why we believe a forensic audit across the board of funding to Aboriginal organisations is essential.
“This Senate Inquiry has been a long time coming. I will soon be launching a petition and will be working to get cross bench support to make it happen if the Government will refuse to act.”