Accounting for Aboriginal Land Councils: 5 things you need to know

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When it comes to accounting for Aboriginal Land Councils, it can seem like there’s a lot to navigate. Government regulations, reporting requirements and budgeting, for starters. And all that on top of the standard, routine accounting processes all businesses have to undertake.

We get it – it can feel overwhelming. Especially when your time is focused on making positive community change, rather than filling in forms.

But with the right partner – with the right levels of expertise – those processes can be simplified and organised effectively, freeing up your time and offering peace of mind at the same time.

At Unity Accounting, we have market-leading experience in providing business and accounting solutions for LALCs, and understand the areas in need of special attention and skills.

Scales of justice and law books

1. Know the legislation

LALCs are in many regards businesses just like any others… except that they owe their existence to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and have obligations that flow directly from that.

That piece of legislation, of course, governs the what, when, why and how in terms of all LALC operations, especially when it comes to record-keeping and financial reporting.

As such, it is vital to understand that act and have a comprehensive, working knowledge of it.

“That layer of governmental and legal regulation is what makes LACLs unique,” explains Unity Accounting Accountant Karyn Bridge.

“The key thing for us as accountants is the understanding of the act. That’s what makes us stand out from the crowd in that space: our in-depth working knowledge of the legislation.”

Colleagues looking at computer monitor

2. Manage risk effectively

The specific pressures and elements of risk vary between LACLs, but the business of managing those risks and reporting correctly upon them is always of central importance.

Your council’s risk assessment report (RAS) will determine future reporting requirements and how often they need to be submitted in the future.

Your RAS takes time to put together but it is vital to have this prepared by someone with the requisite expertise, as it can also function to determine your council’s funding category.

Serious male entrepreneur in optical eyewear analyzing paper report

3. Stay on top of your day-to-day accounting

Accounting for your LACA is an ongoing process and not something to be visited once or twice a year.

Putting the best systems in place, with guidance and education on how to use them, will reduce stress and avoid needless, extra work.

“The concept behind the software we use and the education we offer to clients is to assist in meeting those compliance requirements,” says Karyn.

“Important information is recorded on a day-to-day basis, so you don’t get to compliance day and go ‘oh, we don’t have all this information we need!’. We’re actually completing it as we go. So when the time to report comes around, it’s all there to hand.”

Pile of documents on office desk

4. Ensure your reporting processes are sound

As well as normal business activities like BAS reporting, payroll processing, client records, tax submissions and audit preparations, LALCs have additional reports to submit around funding, budgets and other legal requirements.

It is important to stay on top of all of these demands, something that can be time-consuming and even overwhelming if your own expertise lies outside of this.

With the right tools and assistance in ordering your reporting requirements, you will be in a strong position to make informed decisions based on the right information to take your council forward in its development.

Woman talking to a client

5. Find a trusted partner to help you

The complexities of accounting for Aboriginal Land Councils make finding the right partner – one you can trust and who has specific expertise that applies to your needs and circumstances – an important decision.

Allowing Unity Accounting to work with your council enables us to help you build a strong, stainable base, offering assurance that your tax requirements, financial reports and compliance matters are all in good order in good time.

Meaning you can get on with the business of meeting the goals and aspirations of the community you serve.

Speak to one of our experts today to find out more and discuss the needs you want to meet.