Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 31 August 1993
Page: 692

(Question No. 300)


Senator Panizza asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, upon notice, on 27 May 1993:

  To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs—With reference to the 1991-92 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission annual report, particularly page 110, where the Commission explains that it is not "required" by the Act to take recovery action in respect of grant monies where there has been non-compliance with grant conditions, what are the details of each grant in which any degree of non-compliance was noted and the sum, or proportion of, grant monies which the Commission decided to not recover.


Senator Collins —The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission has provided the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs with the following response to the honourable senator's question.

  The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act does not "require" ATSIC (that is, it is not mandatory for ATSIC) to take recovery action in respect of grant monies where there has been non-compliance with grant conditions by a grantee organisation. ATSIC, nevertheless, has set stringent accountability requirements which surpass those in existence prior to the creation of ATSIC.

  In situations where serious breaches of grant conditions have occurred, ATSIC has ceased funding and issued notices, pursuant to Section 20 of the ATSIC Act, for the recovery of grant funds. This practice has resulted in organisations such as an Aboriginal Legal Service and an Aboriginal Resource Agency, amongst others, being denied further funding. Funding to a number of organisations receiving grants for a range of programs, including the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP), has ceased as a result of non-compliance with grant conditions. Some of these organisations have since ceased to exist.

  The Board of Commissioners has maintained a policy which in effect means that organisations that fail to account for their grants satisfactorily may not receive further payments. Payments to organisations that have failed to acquit grants are made in exceptional "life and death" circumstances and only after remedial action has been instigated.

  ATSIC, in developing its accountability procedures (including Conditions of Grant) has liaised with Government departments delivering grant programs and consulted extensively with the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), the Office of Evaluation and Audit, the Australian Government Solicitor and the Department of Finance. As a result of this interaction, the Commission has established a framework of grant procedures, including accountability requirements, that are considered at least equal to other government agencies.

  ATSIC is a strongly decentralised organisation with most grant decision-making occurring at Regional Office level. It does not keep consolidated records of each and every breach of grant conditions, however minor (such as organisations being a little late in providing a progress report). ATSIC, however, is satisfied that with regular audits of its operations being conducted by the Office of Evaluation and Audit and the Australian National Audit Office strong administrative controls are being exercised.