Kimberley Land Council CEO Brian Wilkinson has been sacked by the Board just 14 weeks into his tenure.

It’s understood KLC Directors moved a resolution late Thursday afternoon to terminate Wilkinson’s contract.

Despite starting in January with calls to protect the Martuwarra/Fitzroy River and an ambitious goal to have the Kimberley region 100 per cent Native Title determined, Wilkinson did not stay the course.

The chief executive, who was formerly a police officer for more than 30 years, received backlash in March for telling the media that young kids getting into brawls at school should face criminal consequences, including assault charges, amid rising numbers of fights at Broome Senior High School.

“Assault should be treated as assault. Just because it’s on school grounds does not mean it’s anything less,” he told The West Australian at the time.

Many were unimpressed by the former police officer’s crime and punishment approach to the issue.

Current Director and former KLC CEO Wayne Bergmann will now take the reins as interim Executive Director while KLC prepares for its next leader.

“A proud Nyikina man, Mr Bergmann is recognised as one of Australia’s leading advocates for Indigenous self-determination through economic empowerment and opportunity,” said KLC Chair Anthony Watson in a statement.

“The KLC board will now commence recruitment for a new CEO. Mr Bergmann will fulfil the duties of the role in the interim.”

As CEO from 2001 to 2011, Bergmann established the Kimberley Ranger Network, helped in Native Title determination over 65-70 per cent of the Kimberley, and successfully lobbied the government to grant National Heritage Listing to over 19 million hectares of Kimberley land and sea.

By Hannah Cross

 

*Editor’s note: Wayne Bergmann is part-owner of the National Indigenous Times. For further information, read NIT’s editorial policy.