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Government bureaucracy is still the biggest problem facing Indigenous Australians

Guest Author -

It's no secret that Aboriginal communities face many problems. It's also no surprise that many of these problems stem from a single factor: bureaucracy.

Aboriginal people are still far more likely to go to prison, earn lower average incomes from work, and suffer from higher rates of chronic illness than non-Aboriginal people.

Although the government of New South Wales has made some progress (e.g. hanging a flag on a bridge), it still has a lot to do.

Since the 1980s, bureaucratic interference and the pumping of 'Indigenous money' into non-Indigenous organisations (blakwashing) have hindered efforts to close the disparity gaps for Aboriginal people in NSW.

The Office of the Registrar, a department of the NSW Government, is a prime example of how bureaucracy impedes the advancement of Aboriginal communities.

It was established when the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 entered into force and is responsible for maintaining the Register of Aboriginal people, approving the rules of Aboriginal Land Councils and investigating complaints and mediating disputes.

Unfortunately, the registrar appears to be underpaid because he seems to be doing minimal work in Aboriginal identity fraud and governance emergencies.

A search of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission database, which is the national regulator of charities reveals that many Aboriginal Land Councils are not keeping their financials and annual information statements up to date.

Before the aspiring racists and the anti-Indigenous rights movement get up on their high horses and start spewing bovine manure, please let me inform you about the real problem.

It's mainly due to the Office of the Registrar's lack of support and guidance for these councils, rather than most community members pushing hard for positive change.

It is being held back by the NSW Government and its bureaucracy.

I've witnessed first-hand the discrimination against two former chief executives in the community, a small but vocal minority who pushed their own agenda, rather than what was best for the community.

I experienced this discrimination first-hand and cannot speak about it in detail because of a non-disclosure agreement.

The reality is that things are proceeding in a negative direction.

Instead of providing solutions and culturally appropriate support for communities to thrive, it sometimes appears that the registrar is defending the status quo and keeping people down.

The NSW Government can overcome a bureaucratic process and a bureaucracy-imposed inequity in Aboriginal communities if dramatic and fundamental system changes are made.

These changes could help Aboriginal communities overcome our challenges and unlock their potential for positive progress.

Dean Foley is a Kamilaroi entrepreneur and Founder at Barayamal (Black Swan)

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