Home' acuity : Acuity Dec 15 Contents various factors that will allow ongoing
funding of each corporation’s activities.
Kelly says that Firth provided a
crucial link between the finance world
and SWALSC’s directors and helped
the Noongar negotiators to deal with
the State government with greater
Firth developed a model of likely staffing
levels and budgets for the proposed new
corporations, which gave an annualised
cost. He then calculated the required size
of an endowment fund to support that
expenditure. His result was very similar
to the medium case developed by the
Noongar economic consultants.
“When the State offer was received,
it was extremely close to both of these
figures. We felt immediately that we
were all thinking in similar terms, so we
were confident to proceed,” Firth says.
The SWALSC was also greatly
assisted by the NSW Aboriginal Land
Council, which helped them “learn the
ropes” about best practice investment
“The NSWALC fund has a large fund,
which operates under sophisticated
investment and distribution policies,”
Firth says. “Distributions are controlled
through linking them to the long-term real
rate of return achieved by the fund. This
is how we expect distributions from the
Noongar Future Fund to be managed.”
But Kelly says the settlement is “not
all about material enrichment”. It’s also
about creating cultural wellbeing that
has a flow-on effect.
“If people are culturally disoriented,
they just don’t do very well,” he says.
He says Māori settlements can also
provide inspiration in that area and
cites the te kura kaupapa language
“ They’ve blown our minds,” he says.
The Noongar settlement will likely
provide a framework for other
settlements in Australia.
Kelly says other claimant groups from
areas such as Queensland are already
showing interest in the settlement.
Firth says the settlement model is an
alternative to lengthy and expensive
proceedings through the courts.
He says there was no certainty as to
the success of the Native Title cases, and
Native Title had been comprehensively
extinguished in the South West, so very
little land would remain to which Native
Title would have applied.
The settlement will extinguish rights
and future claims, which creates
certainty for the Noongar and the State.
“ The settlement was structured in
such a way that no future claims can be
made. This was one of the main factors
considered when attempting to estimate
the quantum of the settlement, in that
the quantum had to be substantial
enough to eclipse the size of any
potential future compensation claims.”
The agreement now needs to go
through a registration process and the
Native Title Tribunal, which will hear
There has been some opposition, but
Firth notes that six out of six Noongar
regions voted for the settlement
He says some opponents maintain
Chartered Accountants ANZ is
proud to support the Indigenous
Accountants Australia initiative, which
offers mentoring, scholarships and
networking opportunities to increase
the participation of Indigenous
people in the accounting industry.
the settlement was a sellout, or that
it represented an abandonment of
“We respected all views and sought to
give people opposed to the settlement
the opportunity to put their views
forward at the authorisation meetings.
At the end of the day, the majority view
was to proceed with the settlement.”
Firth says more understanding of the
settlement has developed and the level of
opposition has lessened and it represents
a “remarkable act of reconciliation” on
the part of both the State government and
the Noongar community.
“Both the Noongar community and
the West Australian Government were
of the view that a better path for all was
for there to be a negotiated settlement,”
he says. “ The Settlement could be
seen as an act of reconciliation, in
that it aims to put an end to litigation
and create a strong platform for the
Noongar community to focus on
economic and cultural development.”
The High Court’s “Mabo” decision in 1992 wiped out
the notion that Australia was terra nullius – a land of no
people – when European settlers arrived.
is a finance writer and communication consultant.
DECEMBER 2015 / JANUARY 2016 | acuity
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