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Scullion must stop Larrakia Nation closure

AAP logoAAP 18/11/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

A Northern Territory Aboriginal corporation which provides vital services to the disadvantaged may have to close its doors due to red tape issues ignored by the federal government, the opposition says.

In a joint statement issued on Friday, Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy and member for Solomon Luke Gosling called on Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion to stop Larrakia Nation's imminent closure.

The organisation, which runs night patrol, aged care, ranger and homelessness services throughout Darwin, went into special administration in June amid internal strife.

This was mainly due to an inability to recoup the cost of helping people travel back to remote communities under its Return To Country program.

Ms McCarthy and Mr Gosling said the organisation has been working hard to resolve its financial issues since then by reducing debts and strengthening management processes.

"But issues with Centrelink's Centrepay system, that clients of the Return to Country program use to pay their fares in instalments, has left a nearly $500,000 hole that may force the organisation to close," they said.

Labor said more than 60 workers could lose their jobs if the debt isn't repaid by the December deadline.

They said Mr Scullion has ignored requests for consultation and called on him to ensure Centrelink recovers the money owed to Larrakia Nation.

"It's disgraceful the minister will not meet to discuss the future of an indigenous organisation that operates in his backyard," they said.

The night patrol service, which takes people who have been drinking to a shelter to sober up, worked with 10,000 clients last year with demand continuing to grow, Ms McCarthy and Mr Gosling said.

Mr Scullion has been contacted for comment.

A spokesperson for Mr Scullion said claims regarding a lack of consultation are incorrect, stating the government will continue to work with Larrakia Nation and the community to ensure night patrol services are maintained.

"While Larrakia Nation staff and directors have verbally discussed the need for more funding, no formal application has been made to the Commonwealth," the spokesperson said.

"This is a matter for the Gunner Government as the Return to Country program is a Northern Territory government program and funding issues relate to this program."

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