Indigenous communities are an attractive target for organised crime because there is a limited law enforcement presence in remote communities and it has been recognised significant amounts of public funding has been exploited. Financial crimes and exploitation of Indigenous organisations occur in every jurisdiction and this is likely to increase and remote communities are particularly vulnerable. Incentives for individuals and organised
crime groups to exploit Indigenous organisations is likely to remain high because it is correlated with a real and/or perceived low risk of detection. Some executive officers of Indigenous corporations bribe and influence Board members and exploitation of payments
from mining royalties and Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA) are likely to continue. Indigenous program funding is significant and also vulnerable to financial crime and exploitation. It is considered government expenditure in Indigenous communities is around approximately $25 billion each year. Remoteness also allows offenders to seek employment with other organisations after their criminal activity or exploitation has been detected. This
behaviour is often facilitated by the reluctance of some community Board members to make complaints and/or cooperate with regulatory authorities.
Some Indigenous corporations will continue to be exploited by Board members wishing to advance personal, family or group interests. These members pressure office holders to approve programs and/or policies often not for the benefit of the organisation and/or community. Office holders face pressure to submit to the authority of the Board or face employment termination.
Mining royalties and payments to native title holders under ILUAs are a significant source of income for Indigenous communities. A number of communities also operate commercial and social enterprises generating considerable income.
These same people have been involved with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) which proved to be a failure and cost billions of dollars. It has achieved little and has not improved the quality of life for Aboriginal people. It must not be allowed to reoccur. There has been a lack of accountability, inefficient organisation and a squandering of public funds with consequent hostility from mainstream Australia.
I remember sitting outside a ministerial office at Parliament House with a relative around the age of 11 when an Aboriginal woman came out in conversation and mutual agreement. I recall hearing Aboriginal women complaining about the corruption, gambling, drunkenness and bad behaviour of the elected members who made many non-Indigenous Australians Aboriginal people in order to increase their vote and ensure their return to power. I recall this lady saying, John Howard has so many black fellas ringing him, telling him to close it down, but he has no choice.
Most of the ASTIC members had high paying Aboriginal positions. One man went on to run the State Aboriginal Land Council (which holds a billion dollars in cash but cannot maintain the repairs and maintenance of their housing stock and he does not make it easy for Aboriginal Land Council members to own land. The then Commonwealth Ombudsman Philippa Smith AM said this man should never hold a commonwealth role again yet he went on to be the CEO of the National Congress of Australian First Peoples which spent $38 million in a few years and is now the CEO of one of the wealthiest Land Councils in NSW. This is after he engaged in corrupt procurement practices at Burnt Bridge Aboriginal Reserve which has caused the community to suffer for decades from substandard housing and the mismanagement of housing allocation. ATSIC allowed bullying and rioting which resulted in a relative of mine almost dying.
No publicly funded organisation should consider itself immune from accountability. Yet ATSIC sidestepped accountability by hiding behind the veil of racism. During 25 years of change, things remain unchanging and the flow of public money continues to reach the same Aboriginal elite industries and voiceless Aboriginal people and the public are called racist. The Uluru Statement concludes with an oratory elaboration: In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard.
There has been $55 million spent on this Uluru process and Aboriginal people on the ground have not been consulted.
Despite the millions of dollars showered upon these elite Aboriginal groups over the past 50 years, there has been little improvement to the real problems such as economic improvement, housing affordability, education and the safety of our children.
Belinda King: Belinda King, I've lived there all my life. I've got six children. i'm also a widow. My partner of 24 years ago died 4 years ago, this year
Josephine Cashman: How many grandchildren?
Belinda King: I have eight
Josephine Cashman: Eight wow what are their age ranges?
Belinda King: Eight, six, four
three, and two months.
Josephine Cashman: Two months, so what do you like about Willicannia?
Belinda King: I love what he used to use so laid back and this is Barkindji country and from me.
Josephine Cashman: Do you know what the Uluru statement
Belinda King: I've heard about.
Josephine Cashman: has anyone asked you about it?
Belinda King: No.
Josephine Cashman: Has anyone asked you if you want it?
Josephine Cashman: Did anyone consult with you your
family about native title?
Belinda King: No.
Josephine Cashman: Do you know a person called Noel
Belinda King: I've heard of him.
Josephine Cashman: Do you know anything about him?
Belinda King: Not real not much. I guess just see him on tv. That's it.
Josephine Cashman: What about Marcia Langton?
Belinda King: I've heard about here I've seen her on tv.
Josephine Cashman: Have you spoken to her?
Belinda King:No, i haven't.
Josephine Cashman: Does she speak for you?
Belinda King: No, she don't.
Josephine Cashman: Does Noel Pearson speak for you?
Belinda King: No, he doesn't.
Josephine Cashman: Do you know a person called Megan
Belinda King: No I've never her of her.
Josephine Cashman: Does Megan Davis speak for you?
Belinda King: No.
Josephine Cashman: Do you know a person called Mark leibler?
Belinda King: I've heard of him but he don't speak for
Josephine Cashman: Do you get a chance to make decisions
about things that affect you?
Belinda King: No, we don't.
Josephine Cashman: What happens?
We get everybody else and outsiders and make the decisions for us, not us on the ground.
Josephine Cashman: Do you have a problem with what they
call anglo or white Australians?
Belinda King: Not really because well my ancestry is Scottish with my great grandfather.
Josephine Cashman: Yeah do you know how much money gets spent in aboriginal affairs it's double the amount that it's double for aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people do you get lots of money?
Belinda King: No, I don't.
Josephine Cashman: Did you get free stuff?
Belinda King: No, I don't we don't get free stuff.
Josephine Cashman: Because a lot of Australians think that you know
aboriginal people get all this free stuff because there's all this funding.
Belinda King: I still work for the doll and at the end of the day. I don't have much to spend once you're paying your rent and your electricity so we're not we're ready you know we don't get things given to us, we don't get the money given to us.
Josephine Cashman: How much does food cost here?
Belinda King: It costs an arm and a leg. it's very dear here in Wilcannia.
Josephine Cashman: How much more is it than the Coles in Broken Hill for example?
Belinda King: You could go to Coals maybe spend 100 bucks there and you can come out with you know think just about all the essentials what you want and you go to the shop here it's costing you an 'arm a leg.' Maybe nearly 200 just for a couple of shopping bags.
Josephine Cashman: When you were growing up right I heard
that your mother was a school teacher?
Yes, she was.
Josephine Cashman: And you're very proud of that aren't you
yes very proud of that, aren't you?
Belinda King: Yep.
Josephine Cashman: And your grandmother and grandfather they were married all your lives and so are your mum and dad and they had lots of jobs didn't they?
Belinda King: Yes, they did they worked were they living theThings they wanted they worked hard for it.
Josephine Cashman: There were 13 hotels here at one time. Do you remember any of that?
Belinda King: Yes, I've heard about it and I've seen some more newspaper things about it yeah.
Josephine Cashman: And which would it be fair to say this town's practically dead?
Belinda King: Yes, it's more or less like a ghost town now.
Josephine Cashman: Do you know why that's happened?
Belinda King: Oh, we're the forgotten people. We're the ones they forget about. They don't realise we live here in Willicannia.
Josephine Cashman: So like when you were growing up because you had a wonderful childhood, right?
Belinda King:Yes. No violence no, no violence. All this all the drugs and all the abuse was happening now it
wasn't happening back when we were growing up.
Josephine Cashman: Why do you think it's changed?
Belinda King: Too much corruption all the fake people, claimers yeah tell me about the fake claimers yeah.
Josephine Cashman: Tell me about what is a fake claimer then, what is a fake claimer then let's start with that?
Belinda King: A fake claimer is Bruce Pascoe. He's not aboriginal he's white as he's from England.
Josephine Cashman: You've also had fake claimers in your traditional,
traditional native title group correct?
Belinda King: Yes, that's correct.
Josephine Cashman: Why can't you get rid of them?
Belinda King: I do not know.
Josephine Cashman: Have you tried?
Belinda King: I think we may be on the ball now trying to get rid of them some of them resigned!
Josephine Cashman: That's good do you think it's a direct result of us?
Belinda King: Yes, it is.
Josephine Cashman: Really?
Belinda King: Yes.
Josephine Cashman: Oh so we actually getting, some wins?
Belinda King: Yes, you are, yeah.
Josephine Cashman: Really! Oh, that's good news.
Belinda King: Yeah, they are resigning now.
Josephine Cashman: Do you think they're getting starting to get uncomfortable?
Belinda King: Yes.
Josephine Cashman: What should happen to people who've
falsely claimed to be aboriginal and got
money as a result?
Josephine Cashman: Jail that's what they go to jail.
Josephine Cashman: Could I just say are these people the fake claimers do they normally have a lot of power?
Belinda King: Yes they have a lot of power right they think they speak for us but all they're doing is just filling their pockets up and everything.
Josephine Cashman: Do you understand why the media and the
public servants and everybody allows the fake claimers it's just quite bizarre to have these high positions when they're not even aboriginal to make decisions for you?
Belinda King: No that's wrong. No one's got a right to make a decision for us here. It's up to us to make that you know what we want.
Josephine Cashman: The real elders don't have a say is that
Belinda King: Yes, that's correct?
Josephine Cashman: How does that make you feel?
Belinda King: It makes me angry, very angry because we are getting
Josephine Cashman: See I was starting to like because when I first came here right auntie Sissy thought it was racism right the reason why you don't have a voice and now we know in a way it's trying to get, set aboriginal people up against Australian people?
Belinda King: Yeah, I've seen it but I've heard about and seen it yeah.
Josephine Cashman: Because when you when you don't know any better
like these people get all to say you're cut out you could actually easily think it's all the Australian people against you. Have you thought felt like that at any time?
Belinda King: Yeah, being in town you didn't feel like that a lot here. You go to
Josephine Cashman: Going to consistent meetings and not being heard?
Belinda King: Um.
Josephine Cashman: You lost your parents house recently because of the shire right?
Belinda King: Yes
Josephine Cashman: Yes, there's only a little bit of there's in another person's name and you were negotiating with a barrister and a lawyer and they sold it for five thousand dollars?
Belinda King: Yep, they wouldn't even give us a chance it just made us feel like fools.
Josephine Cashman: Do they punish honest people?
Belinda King: Not here they don't get punished they just keep on doing what they want to do.
Josephine Cashman: And don't listen to you?
Belinda King: They don't then listen to anybody they just want to do what they want to do.
Josephine Cashman: So growing up you had a strong mother, strong father strong, grandfather, strong grandmother who were very well liked
by everybody in the town had lots of jobs and then the town's slowly being destroyed the native title group you've got set up they've got all these fakes claimers in there and it's getting to the point where you guys don't have to say it all and you're the traditional people's is
Belinda King: Yep, that's correct.
Josephine Cashman: And you know you can't own your own home on the land even though the land council has been given it by the state government is that correct?
Belinda King: Yes.
Josephine Cashman: And all your repairs and maintenance are done
outside through another body and when last time when they came in you told me you had people who couldn't speak English and they put the electrical points the wrong way?
Belinda King: Yep, you got um to go into the bathroom and the toilet you get the lights which is on the outside and the fan which is connected with one button
so they're not separated so.
Josephine Cashman: So you can't have any you can't do the repairs maintenance yourself?
Belinda King: Yes.
You're not allowed to have control of
your homes and your homes are extremely over for yourself not all your kids live with you but a lot of them you, you're battling to have enough space to live is that correct?
Belinda King: Yes that's correct.
Josephine Cashman: and how does that make you feel?
Belinda King: um this makes me angry because we can't get any more houses built out here we got um a lot of other crowded houses there a lot of families
all you know all sleep in the lounge and that's where I'm sleeping at the moment in the lounge that's my bedroom.
Josephine Cashman: Because you've given your bedroom to your adult children with their kids is that right?
Belinda King: Yes
Josephine Cashman: and you're really like you read books you're really smart you'd love to have a great job right?
Belinda King: Yes.
Josephine Cashman: Hard to get a job here right everything's closed down?
Belinda King: Everyone is happy when they got their own home.
Josephine Cashman: That's the main thing you want, it feels like they're not giving you what you want on purpose.
Belinda King: Yes.
Josephine Cashman: But is there anything else you want to say because it's your chance to have a say?
Belinda King: Well I don't agree with uh Uluru statement, we don't need anybody to speak for us we speak for ourselves.