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Remote Communities Ripped Off - This Week on Four Corners

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Ripped Off: How taxpayers money is being squandered, leaving remote communities feeling exploited and betrayed.

“There are weasels out there that just know what to look for and can infiltrate.” Indigenous CEO

They’re amongst the most disadvantaged people in Australia. The residents of our remote communities who battle chronic unemployment, terrible health problems and third world living conditions. It's why billions of dollars in taxpayers money has been poured into Indigenous programs aimed at “closing the gap”. So it’s extraordinary to think anyone would want to exploit such vulnerable people.

“How could you do that to us? We trusted you, we had faith in you. I just feel real sad, not ashamed, but sad that this guy could just come in and blind us.” Community Board member

On Monday night Four Corners exposes how millions of dollars have been ripped out of remote communities, leaving a trail of broken promises, unfinished work and a burning sense of betrayal.

“We bust arse to try and improve the lives of Aboriginal people and you know there’s this despicable act going on, it was just absolutely gutting.” Indigenous CEO

In some cases, communities have been the victims of out and out fraud:

“(We) were taken in by someone that was extraordinarily clever...It’s hard to describe somebody who would use people like that for some scheme for their own ends.” Former Community CEO

In others, it’s a case of sheer incompetence:

“I just cry out when I see people living in poverty, in destitute situations. And yet they’ve got Aboriginal corporations that have multimillions of dollars there that’s supposed to be there for their own benefit, and it’s not reaching the ground and helping them.” Indigenous leader

Reporter Linton Besser goes on a 4000km journey to some of Australia’s most remote communities and finds evidence scattered all around, from abandoned constructions sites and dilapidated buildings, to state of the art facilities, locked up - because there’s no money left to run them.

He investigates who’s to blame:

“Linton Besser from Four Corners. I’d just like to ask you some questions...”

And finds communities determined to speak out and demand action:

“It’s taxpayers money and we’re saying taxpayers money is being wasted here, surely that’s government business, to come and work with us to sort it out.” Community Elder

RIPPED OFF, reported by Linton Besser and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 6th of June at 8.30pm on ABC & iview. It is replayed on Tuesday 7th of June at 10.00am and Wednesday 8th at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm AEST, ABC iview and at