IS BEL A BAMAGA COMPANY? YOU BET, 100 PER CENT
In a recent meeting with Mayor Edward Newman, he surprisingly questioned where Bamaga Enterprises is based; whether it is a Bamaga community-owned and based business, or an Adelaide company.
Someone in Council, for reasons known only to themselves, must have been doing a company search and noted the registered office of BEL has an Adelaide address.
This is because BEL has no ownership of its own office and rents office space in the Rural Transaction Centre (RTC) from Council – even though under the agreement between Bamaga Island Council (BIC) and BEL, the RTC is to be transferred to BEL. Unfortunately, Council has failed to honour that agreement to date, almost 12 years after amalgamation.
It’s important that corporate records are kept secure and this is not possible in the limited office space available to BEL. These records are therefore held in the accountancy/consultancy offices of BEL’s Company Secretary in Adelaide. It is common practice for small companies to have their registered office listed at the premises of larger accounting practices.
From left to right: Clifford Wasiu, Robert Poi Poi, Reg Williams OAM, Jesse Sagaukaz and Jonathon Yusia
All BEL operations and the administration office are based in Bamaga. Five of the organisation’s six Directors (including its Chairperson) and most of its membership are Bamaga people who meet the membership criteria of having resided in Bamaga for more than five years. Under its Constitution, 85% of the membership must be Indigenous. BEL is a 100% Bamaga community-owned, based and controlled company. With BEL’s profits being reinvested in the community, anyone that implies differently is deliberately trying to spread false information to the detriment of BEL.
BEL was established in 2002 by the BIC Councillors at the time, namely Chairperson Reg Williams, Robert Poi Poi, Clifford Wasiu, Jonathon Yusia and the late Jesse Sagaukaz. They were the founding members and original Directors of BEL, and are still members (with Robert and Clifford still Directors). You can’t be more Bamaga-orientated than that.
Chris Foord, General Manager, Bamaga Enterprises Ltd
REG WILLIAMS HONOURED WITH ORDER OF AUSTRALIA MEDAL
On behalf of my fellow Bamaga Enterprises (BEL) Directors, I would like to congratulate Reg Williams on receiving the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his services to the Indigenous community of Queensland in September 2019. It’s the first such award for a member of the Bamaga community and is very well-earned.
Reg was instrumental in the establishment of BEL in 2002 as the long-term Chairperson of the Bamaga Island Council (BIC), along with myself, Clifford Wasiu, Jonathon Yusia and the late Jesse Sagaukaz – the founding members and first Directors of BEL. He also received the prestigious Centenary Medal that same year for his contribution to Australian society/government.
A history of leading and giving back
Reg was the Chairperson of BEL for six years until his election as the first Bamaga Councillor in the amalgamated NPARC Council, which required him to step down due to licensing conditions at the Tavern.
Reg’s record of service to the Indigenous community speaks for itself, including:
- Councillor and then Chairperson of BIC for more than 20 years;
- Deputy Mayor of NPARC;Director at Torres Strait Regional Authority for many years;
- Chairperson of Apudthama Land Trust;Director at Islander Coordinating Council; and
- currently the Chairperson of Ipima Ikaya Aboriginal Corporation, the Registered Native Title Body Corporate (RNTBC).
He brings a huge amount of management and good governance experience to the table and is an ideal person to best represent the interests of Bamaga at the local level.
We need our elected representatives to act in a fair and professional manner and to put aside personal prejudices and family disputes to arrive at decisions that benefit the greater community.
From BEL’s perspective, this has certainly not been the case over the last four years, with no engagement or consultation by the present Bamaga Councillor, Cassandra Adidi, whatsoever; especially when there are so many outstanding issues to resolve that would greatly benefit the community.
Developing BEL for the benefit of the community
Reg continues to take a great interest in our organisation, and says, “The important thing to remember about BEL is that it is a Bamaga community-owned and based company, governed by a board comprising five elected Indigenous Directors.
“Its primary focus and purpose is to benefit the Bamaga, and more recently, the greater NPA community. The organisation is a role model in Indigenous commercial affairs, being a charity that puts its profits back into the community. If you buy fuel, a carton of beer or eat at the Cape York Peninsula Lodge, your money stays in the community to be used again to provide sponsorships, scholarships, resources and community infrastructure,” Mr Williams says.
As the major private enterprise in the NPA, BEL has the financial capacity and management skills to deliver greater economic development and improved prosperity to the NPA. This will result in additional job opportunities and further infrastructure, such as retail shop fronts for local entrepreneurs to start businesses.
Mr Williams says BEL needs to be fully supported to achieve this. “I meet regularly with the BEL Directors and management to ensure I am aware of the issues facing them and to provide feedback on a variety of issues.”
Robert Poi Poi – Chairperson, Bamaga Enterprises Ltd
BEL IN THE NEWS
The team at Bamaga Enterprises understands how important the visitor economy is to our local communities. With a national travel media convention recently taking place in Cairns, BEL worked with Tourism Tropical North Queensland and local tourism operators to host two leading travel journalists around the region.
Showcasing Cape York Peninsula Lodge, The Tip, Fruit Bat Falls and Torres Strait Islands, the resulting media exposure will promote the region’s attractions. Multi-award-winning writer Catherine Marshall said she found the NPA and Torres Strait to be incredibly fascinating.
“This is a region that many Australians want to visit, but there’s often the mental barrier of distance and perceived difficulty in getting here,” she said.
“However, my visit showed me that driving isn’t the only option – there are also several flight and cruise options available. It was a surprise to find that there’s so much more to this region than The Tip – as beautiful a landmark as it is. I was fascinated, for example, by the story of how Torres Strait Islander culture came to flourish in Bamaga, and really enjoyed discovering the tangible connection between the community and the islands lying out in the Strait.”
FRAN HOLT MOVES TO ADMIN TEAM
Congratulations to Frances Holt, who began working as Administration Assistant at BEL’s offices in October 2019.
Fran first joined the organisation in November 2016 at Bamaga BP after moving from Mackay.
“I had a hospitality, childcare and admin background. Working at BP was a good change of pace for me, as I generally see myself as a shy and quiet person so that in itself is a challenge,” Ms Holt said.
“Serving customers and doing other tasks at BP gave me enough confidence to feel comfortable in my job and I always gave 110%.
“I’ve gained so much experience and knowledge working with BEL and the community. I feel very privileged to have been accepted for this position at the BEL office. Working in admin is giving me the chance to observe and experience different styles of management across Bamaga BP, Cape York Peninsula Lodge and Bamaga Tavern.
“I’m excited to see how, when and what the future brings to BEL.”