Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation (ICN 207)
Campbelltown, New South Wales: Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation (TAC) has been around for a long time. It incorporated in 1983 under the former Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1975 before transitioning to the CATSI Act in 2007. Over this time it has expanded into a thriving multifunctional community-controlled organisation, very much at the heart of the outer Sydney suburb of Airds.
In fact it is fair to say the corporation has grown up alongside the community and has remained true to its main purpose of improving the health and wellbeing of the local people.
‘We provide medical services and community support programs,’ says the corporation’s chairperson, Doris Slabb. ‘And we work hard to make sure we deliver them to the highest possible standard.’
In 2008 Tharawal was awarded the GP Practice of the Year Award and as an Accredited General Practice is held in high regard. Its patient register runs to about 4,000 which is also about the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in the Campbelltown area.
‘We try to prevent medical conditions that are common among our community. We believe through health education programs and good nutrition, and by providing appropriate medical services, we can improve our people’s standard of general health,’ says Darryl Wright, Tharawal’s CEO for the past eight years.
‘Brighter futures’ which concentrates on kids to help them develop healthy outlooks is among the many community-support programs the corporation offers. There’s also the ‘Good tucker all round’ program which is a fruit and vegetable delivery service, great for everyone but of extra benefit to those susceptible to chronic illness, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
‘Each week the corporation buys quality produce in bulk from the Sydney market, divides it up into individual boxes and delivers them around the community,’ says manager Karen Beetson. ‘For about $15 you can get a box delivered to your door.’
Other programs include the ‘Lyrebird’ exercise classes and quit smoking support groups. There’s a lot going on, including on the administrative side.
The corporation’s corporate governance standards are strong because it attends to its reporting obligations and thinks about the future. For example, Tharawal has a succession plan to train the members (especially the young people) who may, at some point, want to seek election to the board.
‘Our attitude is that as many of our members as possible should have some understanding of good corporate governance,’ says Darryl Wright. ‘We’re pleased that ORIC has been able to provide training for us.’
Two years ago ORIC conducted a routine examination of the corporation’s affairs and reported that, ‘the corporation was well managed, operating viably and conducting its activities in accordance with its objectives’. It also mentioned that the directors were performing their duties conscientiously and competently, and that the corporation had strong financial management practices in place.
‘We believe that for our corporation to be healthy and successful our members must be regularly trained in corporate governance,’ says Darryl Wright.
1. Some of the staff, directors and members after corporate governance training delivered by ORIC. The corporation employs about 65 people, including doctors, nurses, other health workers, and administration staff. Photo: ORIC
2 and 3. Introduction to corporate governance training conducted by ORIC at Tharawal. Photos: ORIC
4 and 5. Getting fruit and vegetable boxes ready—part of the ‘Good tucker all round’ program. Photos: TAC