The Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Anthony Beven, has begun civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court in Canberra against three former directors of the Southside Housing Aboriginal Corporation (Southside Housing).
Southside Housing is a Canberra-based not-for-profit corporation that was established to provide affordable housing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT.
In December 2013 the Registrar placed the corporation under special administration for the second time in seven years after an examination of the corporation’s books and records revealed a large number of serious concerns relating to poor governance and bad financial management.
During the special administration an investigation was commenced by the Registrar.
The Registrar has applied to the Federal Court for declarations and an order disqualifying the three former directors from managing corporations registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006. The Registrar is also seeking orders requiring them to pay a fine to the Commonwealth and compensation to Southside Housing.
The Registrar alleges that the three former directors, Mr Fred Monaghan, Ms Teresa Monaghan and Ms Kim Peters controlled the corporation and ran it for their own benefit. The directors lived in the properties owned by the corporation, did not pay all of their rent and had the corporation pay part of their excess water charges.
Of most concern was that the directors allowed the corporation’s seven houses to fall into disrepair with two declared uninhabitable. Significant expenditure is required to return the houses to a habitable state.
‘This is an unfortunate case where poor governance and the self-interest of directors have led to at least two publicly funded houses not being available to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community,’ Mr Beven said. ‘If directors are more interested in what they personally can get from a corporation then they should not be directors.’
A directions hearing will be held in the Federal Court in Canberra on 1 May 2015.
For more information about the special administration of Southside Housing Aboriginal Corporation see ORICMR1314-21 and ORICMR1415-19 at www.oric.gov.au.
Christa de Jager
(02) 6146 4737
30 March 2015