AGM goes ahead without former leader as Framlingham Aboriginal Trust shapes its future 

THE new members of the Framlingham Aboriginal Trust were delighted with the outcome of yesterday’s annual general meeting after earlier refusing entry to its former leader Geoff Clark.

Mr  Clark said denying him and his sons access to the meeting while his shares were being investigated was a denial of natural justice.

Trust barrister Fran O’Brien, SC, said Mr Clark previously held 2000 shares but that did not entitle him to be at the AGM because he was a bankrupt and those shares were held by the Trustee in Bankruptcy.

Ms O’Brien said Mr Clark’s shares — he still holds 100 and the other 1900 were signed over to his sons Jeremy and Aaron — were now in dispute and she expected they would be sold.

She said Victoria Police was continuing to investigate the activities of the trust prior to a board overhaul in 2011.

Trust secretary Kyeema Lovett said yesterday was the first time a proper AGM had been held for shareholders in 25 years after others were either not held or not in accordance with regulations.

She said since the trust board’s power shift two years ago there had been 40 minuted meetings when there was a requirement to hold just six.

Miss Lovett said the future was bright for the 80 residents of Framlingham,  with education and employment prospects a key aim for the community that includes 25 children aged under 18 years and 40 people aged under 25.

“We can’t change what has happened in the past but we can shape the future.” - Possum Clark-Ugle

She said the first girl to complete year 12 had finished school and there was an emphasis on all children being provided educational opportunities.

Miss Lovett said the trust board had also appointed an independent returning officer, Russell Worland,  to conduct the election for two trust positions, which led to Joanne McGuinness and Ronald Chatfield being elected.

“We’re very happy with how the AGM was conducted. It’s a small win for the little people,” she said.

“The vast majority of residential shareholders attended the meeting. The board is now made up of younger people who are looking towards the future.”

The secretary said 17 recommendations put forward by accountant firm BDO in an independent audit had been implemented by the trust and the AGM included a report from auditors Sinclair Wilson on the $1.2 million budget.

She said the trust had previously employed very few Aboriginal people but that base had grown to 14 full-time, part-time and casual employees involved in land management and administration.

“The trust is now being run by and for the people living at Framlingham,” Miss Lovett said.

Ms O’Brien said the new trust board had done a huge job in assessing and consolidating property and machinery assets.

“The trust members have really put their heart and soul into getting it right. It has not been a seamless process but there has been massive progress made,” she said.

Trust chairman Possum Clark-Ugle said land management works were being carried out at both the Framlingham forest and Yambuk, which included mammal surveys and pest control.

He said there had also been major equipment assets valued at $600,000 returned to the trust, including a tractor valued at $167,000 which had been recovered.

“We can’t change what has happened in the past but we can shape the future,” he said.

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