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Call for fresh voice on NSW Aboriginal Land Council

Brendan Foster -

Proud Kamilaroi man Dean Foley is running for the NSW Aboriginal Land Council elections because he believes there needs to be greater scrutiny on how government funds are distributed to Indigenous communities.

Mr Foley has nominated for the Northern Region of the council elections on 24 February, as he feels there had been some questionable financial management under the council's leadership.

"For example, several local councils, including my own in Gunnedah, have faced administration, and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council reported a substantial loss of $68.5 million in 2022 alone," he said.

"And with over $600 million under its control, managing these funds demands a thorough review. Because it's evident that resources intended to uplift Aboriginal communities have not been allocated efficiently, leading to missed opportunities for community benefit.

"As councillor, I will prioritise clear, public reporting on financial expenditures and ensure that investments directly benefit Aboriginal people, enhancing transparency and accountability."

The founder of Barayamal - an Indigenous business accelerator program – said the council needs an injection of fresh ideas to address the challenges First Nations communities face.

The 35-year-old said there had not been a change in the Northern NSW role for eight years with the current councillor going unopposed in the last election.

"A younger generation's outlook can invigorate the council's approach to supporting and empowering Aboriginal communities in our region," he said.

"The need for a fresh voice on the council is undeniable, especially considering the lack of progress with closing the disparity gaps over the last eight years.

"My voice can bring innovative solutions for the community that reflect current and future needs, ensuring the council remains relevant and responsive to its constituents."

Mr Foley, who has a Master of Business (Marketing), said if elected to council he would look to rejuvenate policies and make change by promoting sustainable community development, preserving cultural heritage, and advocating for the rights and interests of Aboriginal people in the northern region.

"I plan to leverage community-led initiatives, ensuring that development projects align with the community's needs and aspirations while preserving our environmental and cultural integrity," he said.

"I'll work to preserve our cultural heritage by advocating for the protection of cultural sites, supporting the transmission of traditional knowledge and ensuring that our practices and languages are celebrated and maintained.

"My approach will involve active engagement with community members to understand their concerns and aspirations, coupled with strong advocacy at the council level to ensure our rights and interests are prioritised and defended."

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