• "There needs to be more accountability": Rod Little. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Calls for greater accountability on how and who spends Indigenous money after federal government commences investigation into misuse of funds.
By
Andrea Booth

Source:
NITV News
7 Jun 2016 - 5:59 PM  UPDATED 7 Jun 2016 - 5:59 PM

Rod Little, the co-chair of National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, told NITV News that funders - the state and federal governments along with Indigenous corporations - are jointly responsible for proper governance of spending public funds.

“There are two parties here that have a responsibility for ensuring that those funds are expended accordingly,” Mr Little says.

His comments come after the ABC's 'Four Corners' program revealed on Monday night that the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is investigating 44 Indigenous organisations over accusations of misusing public funds.

It details how three communities had been adversely affected by local projects that were not completed.

“When the department comes in to follow up on these investigations, what it says to me is somebody hasn’t been responsible in their monitoring of these organisations,” he says.

But he adds that doesn’t absolve “those organisations responsible” from ensuring funds are being used to deliver their programs.

Western Australian Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier told NITV News that people “pretty much fleec[ing] those communities of funds is really, really disappointing”.

The ABC’s report featured the community of Warmun in the West Australian Kimberley.

After it was devastated by floods in 2011, Craig Dale was brought in as a project manager on behalf of the Western Australian Department of Housing to repair the damage.

When the project wound up, the community negotiated a new deal to build staff accommodation and they paid Craig Dale upfront.

The funds totaled $3 million - $2 million of that from Warmun community and $1 million from federal grants.

But Mr Dale disappeared, the work was left undone and the community was close to bankrupt.

The Western Australian Housing Department denies Mr Dale was ever a government employee.

Mr Collier says he will assist the Commonwealth Government’s  IAG Risk, Compliance and Integrity branch in its investigation “as much as we possibly can” over Mr Dale’s actions.

“We will not be running away from this,” says Mr Collier.

When NITV News asked the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet what body or individual is responsible, it replied that it, "understands that Mr Dale was contracted by Warmun to deliver services on its behalf. The Department cannot comment further."