INTHEBLACK July 2021 - Magazine - Page 19
JEMMA AHMANN ASA
S T E V E R O S S I N G H F C PA
A L E X G R A H A M F C PA
D I R E C T O R , N O R T H E R N T E R R I T O RY
T R E AT Y C O M M I S S I O N
M A N A G E M E N T A C C O U N TA N T,
A U S T R A L I A N C AT H O L I C U N I V E R S I T Y
As Mick Dodson AM, emeritus professor at Australian
National University, wrote, “Removed from our lands, we
are literally removed from ourselves”. Country is at the
core of our identity, and healing country could also be
read as healing people.
Recent incidents where mining companies have destroyed
sites of cultural significance highlight just how hard it is to
care for country even where protective legislation exists.
At the core of the challenge of how to heal country
and people are two things I often see:
• A lack of knowledge of the sophistication, complexity
and tremendous resilience of First Nations culture.
• A widespread lack of understanding, respect and
empathy for the adverse intergenerational impacts
colonisation had on First Nations Australians.The
ongoing impact is that our people still die significantly
earlier than non-Indigenous Australians, have more
health issues, are in jail more, and the list goes on.
The ongoing impact is that our people still
die significantly earlier than non-Indigenous Australians,
have more health issues, are in jail more, and the list
What can accountants do? You can not only ensure
that your organisation complies with relevant protective
legislation, but also ensure that you act in its spirit and
intent, and do not just see it as an obstacle to be
overcome. You can champion your organisation by
developing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and, if you
already have a RAP, championing its contents to become
core business and part of organisational culture.
Healing country requires some fundamental shifts in
attitude and approach. Change needs to start with “truth
telling” as described in the NT Treaty Commission’s
Discussion Paper released in June 2020.
We can only hope that knowledge will lead
Healing country is about healing people and
healing culture. Country, people and culture are so
intertwined that healing occurs for each of these
aspects concurrently, inclusively and holistically.
When country is healing, so are the people and the
culture. One for all and all for one, if you will.
My brother, as a ranger-in-charge in the
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, gets to heal
country every day, whereas my contribution is a
little less obvious. I tend to work more towards
healing people – sounds strange coming from an
accountant, but, as an accountant within the higher
education sector, giving people a toolkit to manage
money is a very simple contribution to financial,
and therefore cultural, independence and healing.
Through education, my people become
empowered, creating a momentum for others to
also heal country, people and culture.
Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
tertiary students enrol in teaching and nursing,
which is excellent, because health and education
outcomes are vitally important. However,
accounting must be considered alongside these
professions, because Indigenous accountants can
provide a pathway to economic freedom and
self-management for individuals and communities.
Being able to self-manage – heal – country allows
people and culture to flourish, which, in turn, allows
for maintenance and protection of country.
I would love to see more Indigenous people
entering the accounting profession, as I see it being
one element of the progression towards
empowerment, a stronger voice for the First
Peoples of this nation, and for the nation as a
whole – all of the benefits and knowledge that
What can accountants do? You can not only ensure
that your organisation complies with relevant
protective legislation, but also ensure that you act
in its spirit and intent, and do not just see it as an
obstacle to be overcome.
Jemma Ahmann is an accountant
at Griffin Hancock & Moffitt
Accountants in Rockhampton,
Queensland. She works in a smallteam environment, providing
services in tax, business planning
and self-managed superannuation
funds. Ahmann is a recipient of
the 2020 CPA Australia Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI)
Scholarship and enrolled in the
CPA Program in January this year.
STEVE ROSSINGH FCPA
Steve Rossingh FCPA is a
descendent of the Kamilaroi
people in northern New South
Wales, but has lived and worked
in the Northern Territory (NT) for
more than 25 years. He became the
inaugural director of the NT Treaty
Commission in mid-2018 and was
responsible for its establishment.
Rossingh has a bachelor of
business in accounting, is a
graduate of the Australian Institute
of Company Directors and holds an
MBA from Deakin University.
ALEX GRAHAM FCPA
A Gubbi Gubbi man and
management accountant at
Australian Catholic University in
Queensland, Alex Graham FCPA is
passionate about education and
its role in providing opportunities
for his people. As an FCPA, he
feels an obligation to give back
to the community, and uses
his financial expertise to assist
Indigenous higher education
centres and other Indigenous staff
and students. He is also on the
board of directors of Murri Watch,
an Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander organisation that works
to help homeless people and
assists before, during and after
As an accountant within the higher education
sector, giving people a toolkit to manage money
is a very simple contribution to financial, and
therefore cultural independence and healing.
intheblack.com July 2021 19