The New South Wales government launched the Office of the Registrar (Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983) to support local Aboriginal land rights, and it has a number of functions, including approving the rules of Aboriginal Land Councils and investigating complaints and mediating disputes.
The Office of the Registrar is required to do many things according to its mandates, but how much do they actually do?
The reason I ask is that there are many local Aboriginal land councils struggling to keep their doors open, and they're struggling with governance.
If the Office of the Registrar cannot help these organisations with their governance and membership challenges, what is the Office of the Registrar doing?
Although I may appear negative sometimes, I'm actually very optimistic and positive.
My initial reaction to the negative feedback from community members about the Office of the Registrar made me hesitant to voice my concerns.
However, when the same issues continued to persist, I contacted them directly.
I reached out to them via email with plenty of follow-ups, but never heard anything back, which is why I called them to confirm the email I was sending the media requests to was correct.
It's now been almost two weeks since I spoke to the Office of the Registrar, so my optimism about this department has quickly faded.
I've seen the results of the Office of Registrar in my own community where a few people claim to be elders and leaders, but they're actually doing the opposite of what real leaders should be doing.
Instead of helping the community, they are tearing down everything that is good and works.
And then you have the Registrar who lets them get away with it, despite the best efforts of real community leaders who speak out against the injustices.
The Registrar seems unable to settle disputes in a manner which positively affects the community and sets the local Aboriginal land council up for success in the long term.
Instead of taking a tough stance against those who terrorize and hold their communities back, the Registrar gives these people slaps on the wrist, allowing them to return a few months later to continue tearing down the Local Aboriginal Land Council from within.
Another example I've recently seen the Registrar failing hard is when an advisor was appointed to help our local Aboriginal land council get things back on track.
Though this was a nice idea, in theory, the person they chose had no experience working in grassroots Aboriginal organisations.
The Registrar applies a bandage approach to solving problems, but these fall off within a couple of years, and the council is back in administration.
I think the NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet should sit down and talk to the Registrar to find out why there are so many Aboriginal land councils facing problems.
Why are they struggling, and ask why the Registrar isn't taking stronger action to help their community members take these councils in a positive direction that benefits the community and helps close the disparity gaps.
Why is the Registrar being so complacent and not even replying to media requests or requests for a talk from community members? Where is the accountability?
At the end of the day, if the Registrar is unable to do his job, he should step down.
Dean Foley is a Kamilaroi entrepreneur and Founder at Barayamal (Black Swan)