The South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) Board has known since 2019 that the Aboriginal Housing Recovery Centre Limited (AHRCL) was a separate entity, despite the denial of such knowledge in the November 2020 SWALSC Newsletter Chair’s report.

The AHRCL initiative was championed by the SWALSC Board, led by Chair Jeanice Krakouer and former CEO Wayne Nannup.

AHRCL was specifically created to hold land assets to assist the most disadvantaged in the Noongar community due to slow progress on the South West Native Title Settlement.

The SWALSC Board of Directors knew SWALSC was incapable of holding such assets as a Native Title Representative Body, which resulted in the setting up of AHRCL as a SWALSC initiative to ensure property could be held for and on behalf of the Noongar Nation.

Documents obtained by NIT show the SWALSC Board has recorded its knowledge and support of AHRCL as early as September 2019 as well as November 2019, February 2020, May 2020 and July 2020.

This is despite Krakouer’s assertion in the November 2020 SWALSC newsletter that the Board did not realise AHRCL “was not a wholly owned subsidiary of SWALSC”.

Minutes from a September 2019 meeting note the potential acquisition of a property in Wundowie (El Caballo) and that the Noongar Charitable Trust Advisory Council would need to provide “details of the legal entity that would hold the asset”, as SWALSC cannot hold assets.

The SWALSC Board of Directors then directed Nannup to present “a business plan that outlines the vision, financial projections, forecasts, operation costs and the maintenance plan” of acquiring the Wundowie property.

AHRCL has been registered with its own ABN since October 2019 and SWALSC Chair Jeanice Krakouer was a Director of AHRCL until she resigned from the position last weekend.

Minutes from a November 2019 meeting noted Nannup “explained AHRCL and the Aboriginal Housing Foundation Trust is a new non for-profit company” and that “the Board endorse the registration of the company”, which they subsequently did.

The minutes also noted that “SWALSC support the initiative of Wundowie” and that “the Board are in support of the CEO sending a letter to Equity Trustee advising the use of funding towards the investment property”.

In the same meeting, the Board signed off on a resolution to allow Nannup to “engage independent advice” and gave “authority to the CEO to continue his discussions and undertake all things necessary” to prepare a report and recommendation to the Board regarding the purchase of El Caballo.

In a SWALSC meeting in February 2020 the Board of Directors carried yet another motion in support of AHRCL as a means to deliver social outcomes to the Noongar community.

“The directors support the initiatives, objectives and the operations of AHRCL and support the SWALSC CEO in his ongoing efforts and initiatives to assist AHRCL in achieving its objectives.”

Nannup told NIT that AHRCL was always intended to hold and manage property on behalf of the Noongar community.

“AHRCL was always set up as its own entity so it can do business,” he said.

“It was always intended to operate separately; it has its own ABN and own constitution.

“All properties will be held [in the Aboriginal Housing Foundation] for and on behalf of Noongar people.”

Nannup said the Board is “running their own story” about AHRCL even though the minutes show their clear involvement and approval from its inception.

“It’s a SWALSC initiative, but to be able to do AHRCL business it needs to have its own standing,” he said.

“SWALSC is a member of that company and that’s how we set it up.

“The reason we purchased El Caballo was for social return, it wasn’t for economic gain.

“It’s Noongar investment acquired for Noongar opportunities, and I think that they lost sight of that.”

The November newsletter also reveals Nannup’s contract was not renewed as of October 13, however the agenda for that meeting outlined a previous resolution that the CEO’s contract was to be renewed with a 15 per cent increase in salary through to September 2021.

Nannup’s contract states the period of notice for termination is 12 weeks save for “a case of serious misconduct”.

In a statement to NIT, SWALSC said “the Board made the decision to not renew the contract” of the former CEO and that “the Board stands by its decision not to extend” his contract of employment.

Questions put to SWALSC regarding the Board’s involvement in the creation of AHRCL remain unanswered.

Nannup is taking legal action as a consequence of the current SWALSC Board of Directors failing to follow due process.

By Hannah Cross