• National Congress of Australia's First People logo (National Congress of Australia's First People)
The peak representative body for over 9000 people and 180 Indigenous organisations has gone into voluntary administration and may shut.
By
Douglas Smith

Source:
NITV NEWS
13 Jun 2019 - 6:00 PM  UPDATED 13 Jun 2019 - 6:00 PM

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples has been taken over by insolvency firm, Cor Cordis after experiencing “serious financial trouble" and going into voluntary administration.

The organisation's funding was cut in 2013 by former prime minister Tony Abbott.

In a letter sent to all members today, administrators Alan Walker and Andre Lakomy of Cor Cordis stated, "the company [Congress] is, or is likely to become, insolvent. This means that the company is unable to pay its debts or is likely to become unable to pay its debts.

"It is the creditors of the Company who decide the Company’s future."

The creditors will speak with administrators on Friday at the Hyatt Regency in Sydney, at a meeting that is also open to Congress members who register.

This will be the first of two meetings that must be held while in administration.  The second meeting will be held in approximately five weeks, at which the creditors will vote on the company's future. 

NITV News has been informed Cor Cordis will allow the company to advocate for Indigenous organisations, but it must be cleared by the administrator first. 

Cor Cordis have advised Congress members, "The Administrators are in control of the business and affairs of the Company".

Congress co-chair, Rod Little, met on Thursday with the minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt and the appointed administrator, Alan Walker, in Canberra to discuss options going forward.

Afterwards Mr Little told NITV News he couldn’t discuss the details of the meeting because he didn’t “want to put at risk any other progress moving forward.”

“The meeting today was very positive, we agreed that we would be working with government at this point and we’re going to hold it right there because we think that we don’t want to pre-empt any of the next steps,” Mr Little said.

In an official statement, Minister Wyatt avoided making comment about future funding for Congress, stating "the administration process enables an organisation to review its current financial and governance arrangements to provide a greater sense of certainty for the future.”

“I will work with all Indigenous organisations on an outcomes basis to support self-determination, empowerment and representation for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians,” he said.

Mr Little was quoted in The Australian saying that without new federal funding, the organisation would close. “This will leave Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples without a strong united voice,” he said.

Linda Burney, the shadow minister for Indigenous Australians, said if the government was serious about bipartisan support on Indigenous affairs, it would urgently secure funding for the organisation.

“The National Congress represents an important representative platform for First Nations people,” Ms Burney said.

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples has been advocating for Indigenous organisations since it was established in 2010, and is the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation in the country.