CAAMA 'drowning in debt': Regulator


The Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) has today been put into special administration by the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Selwyn Button, who says the 40 year old organisation is “drowning in debt”.
Well over half its income comes from grants, says Mr Button in a media release: “In 2018–19, CAAMA generated approximately $4.1m in revenue, of which 63% was grant funding. But its liabilities are also considerable, and growing.
“Unfortunately, over the last couple of years [CAAMA] has been unable to demonstrate improvements to its financial position or that it can trade itself out of debt.
“Despite having a repayment plan with the Australian Tax Office, its tax debt has more than doubled, reaching a critical level that is not sustainable.
“The special administrators will look at all options to help CAAMA improve its financial position.”
The Registrar has appointed Jack James and Paula Smith from Rodgers Reidy as joint special administrators until 12 June 2020.


  1. Number of CAAMA employees at the end of the financial year 22.
    22 employees?
    What do they all do?
    How much do they cost?
    Why have they not submitted last financial year’s information to the regulator?
    Financial information “yet to be provided”.

  2. Very sad for the industry and for the staff and for CAAMA. Watch the CAAMA chairperson, board and Karl Hampton scramble to blame others and resort to a “woe is us – this isn’t fair” mentality.
    Sadly, the buck stops with the board, and with the chairperson, and with Karl Hampton.
    I will have a moment of silence in remembrance to just a few years ago when it was a much more vibrant and better place!
    I look forward to CAAMA being rescued and the board being told to walk away and STAY away.

  3. Most recent financial statement submitted to ORIC in 2017: Employee benefits expense $2,588,297. Loss $844,423.

  4. If CAAMA had 22 employees in the last financial year it reported to ORIC (2017) the average annual salary would have been about $120K.

  5. These same people assume the self appointed opinions that they are Aboriginal people with intelligence greater than most other Aborigines. Its quite laughable. Foxtrot1 and Nimble are across it all.
    They distinctly recruited the Yeperenye CEO to pull them out of the poop. He’s part of the problem. IAD, CAAMA, Pioneer Football Club are three of the standouts.
    Hope the black town doesn’t have to deal with these people anymore!

  6. What a beat up! Has everyone with an axe to grind got some good cuts in? Yeh ok, good on you.
    Now let’s get on with saving this great broadcaster.
    CAAMA does a bloody damn good job!

  7. Too bad CAAMA wasn’t a sporting body or friends with Nigel Scullion!
    A few hundred million in rorts and the local media doesn’t investigate. A local Aboriginal members owned media organisation and all of a sudden it is beat up of the century.
    CAAMA is a critical service to all Australians and especially remote communities!
    A few hundred thousand of cash flow issues is a small amount of money!
    CAAMA have $15m worth of real estate assets!
    Why not just sell of an assets or two and do some restructuring?

  8. CAAMA is undeniably needed for the whole community both remote and urban. Not disputing this. There have been issues with the CEO, the chairman and the board’s management.
    What’s important is that this is acknowledged.
    Remote people love listening to CAAMA, all up the highway and towards the north, south, east and west. Black fellas, white fellas, yellow fella, all kind of fella.
    A special administrator has been appointed and judging on past, the past won’t be a part of the future in regards to what happens.

  9. You are spot on Sandy! Additional to the point you are making, as we enter a time of international crisis with Corona Virus, we need to be supporting Aboriginal-focused broadcasters more than ever.
    Despite some cashflow issues, CAAMA is ready and able to produce productions and announcements in Aboriginal language quickly … and get them out to an at-risk demographic at fast pace.
    Ho hum, as CAAMA staff are laid off, just watch as Morrison and Co blow $10 billion on their Corona virus response measures.

  10. @ Sandy: You say a few hundred thousand is a small amount of money!
    CAAMA is annually funded to the tune of about $4m from the tax payer.
    It consistently makes a loss, the last being almost $900,000 in 2017.
    CAAMA has not complied with the Act it is incorporated under (CATSI) by failing to submit its accounts to the regulator since 2017.
    Is this because it’s debts were even higher?
    This is a serious breach of the Act.
    $4 million a year received and no scrutiny of spending since 2017.
    I heard Owen Cole on the radio saying that CAAMA should not have been placed in administration so quickly.
    He said CAAMA should have been allowed more time to operate within its means even though it has been in deficit every year for many years.
    CAAMA were given a “show cause” notice to explain why they should not be placed in administration and their excuses obviously failed to impress the regulator.
    I think that the regulator should have moved a lot quicker.
    CAAMA should have been placed in administration after they stopped submitting their financial statements in 2017.
    I hope that politics have not played a role in the regulator’s slow response.

  11. These people need to be brought to justice.
    ORIC are the most useless government organisation in Australia.
    We have written to them about Lhere Artepe and nothing was done.
    Lhere Artepe, the native title holders of Alice Springs, is illegal.
    Mparntwe belongs to the Hermannsburg Western Arunta People going back to 2005.
    The Campbells the Kunoths, the Geoff Shaws and Liddles do not belong to the Central and Eastern Arunta group.

  12. @ Jack: Clearly you have an agenda against CAAMA and to be honest I don’t have the details you seem to have access to. So I am not going to argue with you until more facts are actually available from the administrator.
    Yes, CAAMA needs to tidy up its books. Yes the cashflow margin needs to be improved. Clearly, the board let themselves down by being late with their reports and it is sad the board hasn’t made things work and it has come to this.
    But I am disgusted by comments like yours.
    Your figures only pick and choose half of the story and appear designed to denigrate CAAMA!
    Long live CAAMA! May you rise from this stronger than ever!

  13. @ “Sandy”: Thank you for your comment. The figures you say you have no access to are freely available from the ORIC website. That is where it seems “Jack” obtained his information, and the Alice Springs News has referred to it many times.
    Erwin Chlanda, Editor.

  14. Question for the relevant minister.
    Why was CAAMA funded to the tune of millions of dollars when it was failing to account for its expenditure after 2017?
    CAAMA repeatedly breached the Act it is incorporated under but taxpayer money continued to flow.
    Would this have happened for a non Aboriginal incorporated body?

  15. @ Arunta Man: You are correct.
    The problem is that the existing traditional owners decide who is a traditional owner.
    So becoming a TO is political rather than anthropological.
    Singer Bob Randall (now deceased) became a TO of Uluru.
    Bob Randall was not from that part of the world at all.
    His claim arose from local politics where he was influential.
    Several other Uluru TOs have no traditional claim at all.
    Nor do several Alice Springs TOs have claims in the traditional sense.
    They are just influential individuals.
    Basically any Aboriginal person from anywhere can become a TO.

  16. Someone please remind Arunta Man and Jack we are talking about the financial situation of an Aboriginal media organisation and not their disappointment of who has been recognised as TOs. Is it sour grapes?

  17. I would think the NT ICAC should be looking into this CAAMA Board and CEO.
    It should be a matter of public record then who maybe have charged and convicted. This would then make these corporations more cautious when dealing with taxpayer funds.


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