NSW Aboriginal health organisation no longer in special administration

By Anna Macdonald

June 1, 2022

The WACHS NFP organisation is no longer under administration. (rashmisingh/Adobe)

Following the finding of ‘serious financial discrepancies’ last year, the special administration of the Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS), based in New South Wales, has ended.

The not-for-profit organisation had been placed under special administration by then-registrar of Indigenous Corporations Selwyn Button after its board noticed financial inconsistencies. 

WACHS was placed under special administration in September 2021, and was extended until 27 May 2022 in March.

The current registrar of Indigenous Corporations Tricia Stroud acknowledged the unfortunate events in recent history but said she was pleased the corporation is now financially viable.

“There was no disruption to medical and wellbeing services during the special administration — and significantly, a governance and operational structure is now in place that represents WACHS’ service footprint,” Stroud said.

Fraudulent transactions were identified dating back to 2016, with a new auditor issuing a disclaimer of opinion for the 2020-21 financial statements. 

In a media release, WACHS has said it has taken further steps to mitigate risks of any more financial irregularities, as well as increased accountability and transparency within the organisation. 

Stroud said the restructured executive management team would save the organisation $1.5 million a year.

“Before the special administration, WACHS had no executive management staff in Greater Western Sydney. Now, a newly appointed Deputy CEO is permanently located in Greater Western Sydney,” Stroud added.

Darren Green was named the new CEO of the organisation on 6 December 2021. The new chief financial officer is Avtar Singh. 

“The board are to be praised for their decisive and swift action,” Button said at the time of placing WACHS under special administration. “Furthering their objectives as a not-for-profit organisation under a model of community control is at the heart of WACHS’ approach. I expect their deliberations were intense and not easy, especially to consider potential perceptions of giving up community control.”

The WACHS provides primary health care services for Aboriginal people in areas such as Wellington, Dubbo, Moree and greater western Sydney. 

The special administration was overseen by Jack James and Paula Smith from Rodger Reidy in Perth.

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