Directors of NT community store seek Registrar's support

The Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Selwyn Button, has today placed Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation under special administration.

The corporation was established in 1993 and is located in Urapunga—a small community between the Roper and Wilton Rivers in south east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. It’s approximately a three-hour drive from Katherine.

While the corporation’s objectives are wide-ranging, their main activities include operating a community store and bus service. The community store provides fresh food, affordable groceries, clothes and other supplies as well as banking facilities to around 100 people living in the community.

A serious risk stemming from weak financial control and oversight was realised by the corporation when its chief finance officer resigned and left without notice late last year, and directors noticed warning signs of potential solvency problems.

Although the directors tried they have been unable to gain a full understanding of their financial position. While the uncertainty goes on it is causing operational instability and increasing concerns about food security for the community.

The corporation has engaged Outback Stores to help them fill the gap in expertise in running a community store. However, there are some persisting financial issues that need to be addressed to help make the arrangement successful.

‘In January this year, the directors of the corporation wrote to my office requesting the appointment of a special administrator,’ said Mr Button.

‘I have decided to appoint a special administrator, firstly as I agree with the directors’ analysis that the financial situation requires specialist assistance, and secondly to ensure the wellbeing of the community is not placed at risk while the corporation transitions between store management operators.’

The special administrators will work with the corporation and stakeholders to determine the most appropriate governance arrangements.

The Registrar has appointed Mr Andrew Bowcher and Mr Tim Gumbleton, of RSM Australia Pty Ltd as joint special administrators until 8 May 2020.

Media contact

Lisa Hugg 0477 762 290

3 February 2020