Challenges still facing Purga Elders

The Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Anthony Beven, today announced the end of the special administration at the Purga Elders & Descendants Aboriginal Corporation (Purga Elders).

Located near Ipswich in Queensland, the corporation holds title over part of the former Purga Mission, including the historic Purga cemetery. Its main responsibility is ensuring that the cemetery and associated buildings are kept in good order and accessible to the descendants of the former mission’s residents. The corporation also represents the descendants of the former residents of nearby Deebing Creek Mission.

Activities aimed at helping local Aboriginal people are run through Purga Elders by external providers. These range from special education programs to rural skills training.

Unfortunately the corporation in recent years has experienced a high level of disputation among its members which has impacted on its activities and standards of governance. Attempts by a number of parties, including the Registrar, to mediate between the members have largely been unsuccessful.

On 14 October 2015 the Registrar issued a compliance notice to the corporation and its former directors requiring the reinstatement of 128 members who had been wrongfully removed as members. When the members were not reinstated the Registrar, on 19 January 2016, appointed Mr Peter Saunders from the accounting firm of Kennedy Saunders as the corporation’s special administrator.

‘The special administrator’s job was to reinstate the 128 former members, rebuild relationships with the wider community in Ipswich and strengthen the corporation’s rule book,’ said Mr Beven. ‘It was never to resolve the disputes between members. That will only happen when the members start working together in a respectful manner.’

The special administrator has appointed a new board including an independent non‑member director to take on responsibility for governing the corporation.

‘The history of the Purga and Deebing Creek missions naturally brings to the surface strong emotions for the descendants of the missions’ residents,’ said Mr Beven. ‘However, unless those emotions can be harnessed in a positive way I am concerned about the corporation and its historic properties. This may be the corporation’s last chance to secure a future.’

Media contact
Patricia Gibson
(02) 6146 4743
ORIC MR1516-19
21 April 2016