The NT Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation says it now satisfied a Darwin businessman is Indigenous and will not revoke his Certificate of Aboriginality, after claims surfaced that he was not.
The corporation initially said the paperwork for Allan Lodge’s certificate of Aboriginality (COA) was not filed correctly and that they were “horrified” the application had “fallen through the cracks”.
Mr Lodge used the certificate to obtain a $407,000 federal grant for Indigenous entrepreneurs to expand his furniture joinery business to Katherine. ASIC records show he was born in Sydney.
NT Stolen Generations chair Eileen Cummings said the corporation had since spoken with Mr Lodge and the NSW Land Council, and they were now satisfied Mr Lodge is Indigenous and the paperwork had been properly completed.
The certificate will not be revoked.
“We’ve gone through all the paperwork that is part of our process and we’re satisfied with what we had done,” Ms Cummings told ABC Radio Darwin.
“No way in the world were we going to revoke his COA unless we had sufficient evidence to say he wasn’t of Aboriginal descent.”
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) received a formal complaint in February alleging Mr Lodge was not Indigenous and that he had self-identified as being of Maori descent to former in-laws.
The status of that investigation is unclear. The department has been contacted for an update.
Ms Cummings said she was not contacted by the department or federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion as part of the investigation.
“At the moment, we’re just sitting on it and waiting to see if we’re going to hear any more from the Federal Government,” she said.
“We haven’t heard from PM&C, who’s our funding agency, and we haven’t heard from Senator Scullion.”
Ms Cummings said the situation had resulted in changes to the process NT Stolen Generations used to award the confirmation of Aboriginality certificates.
She said interstate applicants would no longer be granted the certificate if they do not have family in the NT.
“We’re careful about that,” Ms Cummings said.
“We have to be sure these people are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.”