Christine Chalmers, Executive Director – Performance Audit Services Group, Australian National Audit Office, recently attended INTOSAI’s Performance Audit Subcommittee Annual meeting from 5-6 March 2024 in Tbilisi, Georgia. At the meeting, Christine gave a presentation on Civil society engagement in performance audit – Indigenous/First Nations persons involvement in audits of indigenous land councils. The presentation was titled First Nations peoples’ involvement in audits of Indigenous land councils.


The slidedeck for the presentation can be downloaded at Related documents on this page. The text of the slides is available below.

Northern Territory land councils

Map of Australia with Northern Territory highlighted.


Northern, Anindilyakwa, Central and Tiwi Land Councils

Four title images of the Council performance audits by the ANAO.

Accountable authorities - CEO and Chair. Council members and finance members included with in a council.

Northern Territory land council areas outlined in the Northern Territory map.

Other land council area maps.

Auditing challenges

Vote yes for Aboriginal rights. Apology to Australia's Indigenous people. 2023 referendum.

  • Credibility and cultural competency of a Canberra-based team 
  • Historical lack of trust towards government entities 
  • Balancing quality fieldwork with budget and time constraints 
  • Balancing engagement and independence 
  • Combining Western and Indigenous laws and customs 
  • Format of English-language ANAO reports to Parliament

NT Land Councils: Audit rationale

The audit was conducted to provide independent assurance to the Australian Parliament that the Land Councils’ governance arrangements are effective in meeting legislative obligations under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, the Native Title Act and the Performance, Governance and Public Accountability Act

Land Councils play an important role in securing rights and realising benefits for Aboriginal constituents. Many external stakeholders, including government entities, non-government organisations, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses, rely on the efficient and effective operation of the Land Councils.

Citizen involvement

ANAO citizen contribution feature on performance audits.

Pre-fieldwork engagement

Pre-fieldwork engagement examples.

Site visits

Audit fieldwork in Wujal Wujal

Photo of Audit fieldwork in Wujal Wujal

Audit fieldwork in Santa Teresa (Ltyentye Apurte)

Audit fieldwork in Santa Teresa (Ltyentye Apurte)

Reporting back

Screenshot of the ANAO Insights web page.

Reporting back to the Groote Strong Women’s Group

Groote Strong Women’s Group

Figure 4.1: Relationships between ALC, AAAC, GHAC and Winchelsea Mining, 2021-22

A flow chart showing that the ALC CEO, Mark Hewitt, and the ALC Chair, Tony Wurramarrba, occupy senior positions in AAAC, GHAC, and Winchelsea Mining. The flow chart also shows the funding that is distributed by the ALC to Aboriginal corporations including AAAC and GHAC, and the funding or support that AAAC and GHAC provide to Winchelsea Mining.

Source: Auditor-General Report No. 29 of 2022-23

Recommendation no. 10

Paragraph 3.87

The Anindilyakwa Land Council strengthen the royalty equivalents distribution process by:

  1. developing an assessment method that includes funding priorities;
  2. communicating the assessment method to potential applicants and informing all applicants of outcomes;
  3. applying the assessment method to all decisions; and
  4. keeping adequate records of the basis for funding decisions.

Anindilyakwa Land Council response: Disagreed.

Recommendations to the Land Council.

Managing the risks of citizen engagement

  • Managing expectations
  • Setting the parameters of performance audit work
  • Preserving independence, neutrality and objectivity


Raymond Palmer sharing his governance knowledge during the induction workshop.

Source: Auditor-General Report No. 29 of 2022-23