The Guardian October 27, 1999


Credit union for indigenous Australians

On Friday, October 15, singer Jimmy Little, football coach Arthur 
Beetson, and players from the Indigenous Peoples of Australia rugby league 
team launched First Nations  a credit union for indigenous 
Australians.

"Financial security and independence are the keys to self-determination. We 
are proud to invest in First Nations and we are confident it will help our 
people take better control of their economic future", commented David 
Clark, NSW Aboriginal Land Council Treasurer.

David Clark handed over a cheque for $5 million to be invested in First 
Nations at the NSW Leagues Club.

The credit union will provide culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal 
and Torres Strait Islander people. It will pursue the financial 
independence of indigenous Australians and will also train them to be First 
Nation's directors, managers and staff.

Said Mr Clark: "Our investment of $5 million shows our confidence in First 
Nations. A credit union run by indigenous Australians for 
indigenous Australians is a very positive step towards the financial 
independence of our people."

According to Paul Briggs, First Nation's Chair, one of the key issues 
facing the credit union is the provision of accessible financial services 
with a focus on savings and loans.

"Our vision for First Nations is to help members take control of their 
finances and economic futures. We will promote a culture of saving among 
members to improve financial independence", Mr Briggs stressed.

It is worth mentioning that First Nations is open to all Australians and 
operates as a division of Advantage Credit Union, one of the largest credit 
unions in Australia.

Members will have access to a full range of financial services including 
loans, overdrafts, Visa and ATM cards and advice.

The $5 million invested by the NSW Land Council in the credit union is part 
of the financial resources accumulated from 1983 to 1998 when the NSW 
Aboriginal Land Council was paid 7.5 per cent of land tax collected in NSW.

Under the terms of the a Sunset clause in the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights 
Act 1983, all land tax payments to the Land Council stopped on December 31, 
1998.

Fifty per cent of this income was placed in an investment fund. The capital 
in this fund will not be expended.

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council is proud that money paid in compensation 
for the progressive loss of land by the Aboriginal community in NSW since 
colonisation is being used in innovative ways to ensure the future survival 
and progress of their people.

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