398th Council Meeting – Communique

28 August 2020

The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council’s Investment Fund recovered strongly in April, May and June after experiencing losses caused by the COVID 19 pandemic in March this year.

At its meeting in Tamworth on Wednesday 12 August, the Council heard that the fund grew by 6.4 percent, 7.3 percent above its benchmark for the last quarter of the financial year to 30 June 2020.

However, the fund contracted by 0.9 percent across the full year of 2019/2020, which was 4.5 percent less than benchmark. Notwithstanding market volatility, the fund continues to be well-managed with expert advice from Council’s Investment Committee and Investment consultants and performs well in relation to similar funds.

Council approved the submission of the draft annual financial statements to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Auditor-General as required by legislation. The audit is now underway with the final report to be presented to Council at its September 2020 meeting, in time for public release as part of NSWALC’s Annual Report in October 2020. Council noted that, while the reported investment return was less than budgeted, operating expenses have been reduced by 21 percent for the year due to prudent financial management aimed at reducing the drawdown of investments at this time.

The Council also discussed the development of water rights in NSW and endorsed a partnership agreement on water rights developed by NSWALC, Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations, Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations, NTSCORP and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

The agreement will focus on the development of a New South Wales Aboriginal Water Policy, increased Aboriginal water access and ownership and the empowerment of Aboriginal people in water governance and management.

The meeting approved the reappointment of Jocelyn King, David Rickards and Jake Burgess to NSWALC’s Independent Assessment Panel for the Local Aboriginal Land Council Business Enterprise Program.  The Panel provides commercial expertise and experience to assess applications under the program.  The appointments are for a further two years.

Council also endorsed a series of risk management principles to be rolled out to staff.  These will strengthen risk management practices within NSWALC.  Although NSWALC has a strategic risk framework it has identified the importance of more strongly operationalising risk management in its business practice. Adoption of the principles is the first step in doing that.

The Council also noted the imminent transfer of the first properties to be managed by its subsidiary company, NSWALC Housing Ltd.  Four two-bedroom townhouses at Oxley Park near St Marys will be transferred by the Aboriginal Housing Office on 1 September 2020.  NSWALC Housing was established to increase housing to Aboriginal people in NSW.

The Council will meet again in the week beginning 14 September 2020.

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