Former council boss Alan Eldridge has taken the reins of a Riverina Indigenous organisation.
Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation at Wodonga asked the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) to appoint a special administrator last month after months of community concerns and Mr Eldridge was appointed on Thursday.
According to ORIC, Mr Eldridge and his Australian Indigenous Business Services firm would work with the corporation’s staff and members, as well as government bodies, to improve the governance, structures and financial position of the corporation.
Mr Eldridge said he would attempt to address managerial and operational issues, something he had tried to do during his time at Wagga City Council.
“What a lot of people don’t realise is that’s what I was trying to do in council,” Mr Eldridge said. “Turn it around and address the issues… no different from what I attempted to do at council.”
In March this year, the Wodonga Aboriginal community sent a letter to the Mungabareena directors calling for their removal and in July, a meeting was held about their concerns. The organisation, which offers housing and health services, was important to the community.
It’s the first major role for Mr Eldridge since he was sacked by Wagga City Council in February, amid allegations of failing to properly declare an interest. When Mr Eldridge was first appointed acting general manager in 2015, then-mayor Rod Kendall lauded his background in management and as a special administrator.
Mr Eldridge said he had been a special administrator for 20 years, working at “around 180 or 190 organisations – large companies, small companies, multi-million dollar companies”. And while the split from council was less than amicable, Mr Eldridge was looking forward to working with the Aboriginal community in Wodonga.
“I’ve established a good relationship there already,” he said. “I become solely responsible (and) my job is to assume responsibility of the board and basically oversee the operation and make whatever decision… firstly to assess and see if the organisation is viable. Then when that’s done I’ll work closely with the community – there’s a commitment to work with the community – and we set a strategic remediation plan going forward.”
Mr Eldridge will hold the position until March 8, 2018.