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Student-run free NT tax clinic goes from strength to strength


The service gives students real-world experience while providing for those who cannot afford accountants, says Charles Darwin University.

By Josh Needs 10 minute read

A free student-run tax clinic in the Northern Territory is going from strength to strength with double the number of businesses and charities turning to the service in the past year.   

The clinic, run by Charles Darwin University accounting students in partnership with local accounting agency SAMAF Accountants and Consultants, has attracted support from the ATO until 2024.

CDU accounting lecturer from the Asia Pacific College of Business and Law, Raul David, said that the program gave his students great experience while assisting those in need.

“We understand that for most Territorians, tax time is a daunting time,” said Mr David.

“Many people, including micro and small businesses and especially those in vulnerable situations, could not afford to hire tax accountants to manage their affairs.

“Our objective is to help our NT community and provide practical real work experience to our CDU accounting students which allows them to be job-ready at the completion of their qualifications.”

Mr David said it helped students gain technical proficiency and develop their soft skills, such as the ability to communicate.

All of the accounting students who had participated in the clinic had landed jobs with accounting firms and other business industries in the territory, he said.

“We also have a large number of international students who have said that the program has helped them have improved self-confidence and the ability to communicate with clients,” Mr David said.

Now in its fourth year, the CDU Free Tax Clinic has grown in popularity with more 75 charities and small businesses using the service in 2021, up from just 33 in 2020. It also caters to more than 300 individuals.

Mr David said an expansion into online services would make it accessible to remote areas such as the Barkly region, Tennant Creek, Daily Rivers and more.

The team was also setting up clinics with local not-for-profits STEPS NT, Melaleuca Australia and the Australian Red Cross to assist clients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in Darwin’s large migrant community.

“One of our objectives is to have a broader reach providing our services to migrant communities here in Darwin,” said Mr David.

“We have also partnered with Melaleuca Australia to provide us with interpreters to help us with languages such as Urdu, Swahili and more.”  

Before falling in love with teaching and shifting careers Mr David worked with one of the big four accounting firms in Darwin in tax, audit and investigation.

That experience helped him ensure his students could provide a high-quality service at the free clinic, with big four-style training sessions during June.

“I wanted them to experience ‘big four’ type of training,” said Mr David.

“We select the students for the clinic in May and then once we have the selected number of students we do the training through June before opening the clinic in July.

“This includes client communication skills and other soft skills as well as practical skills.”

Eligible individuals for the free clinic are NT residents who have a taxable income of $60,000 and below as well as small businesses, not-for-profits and small charities.

The service is provided in multiple languages including, English, Urdu, Estonian, Russian, Kutchi, Gujarati, Swahili, Lingala, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Arabic.

The free clinic operates at the CDU Waterfront campus from 9am to 5pm every Tuesday and Wednesday between 12 July and 29 October, as well as the CDU Casuarina campus open day on 28 August.

The clinic will also be run in Katherine from Katherine Oasis Shopping Centre from August 16-17 and in Alice Springs at Yeperenye Shopping Centre from August 23-24.

For remotely located NT residents who wish to access the service, bookings for online meetings can be arranged.

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Josh Needs

Josh Needs


Josh Needs is a journalist at Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, which are the leading sources of news, strategy, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Josh studied journalism at the University of NSW and previously wrote news, feature articles and video reviews for Unsealed 4x4, a specialist offroad motoring website. Since joining the Momentum Media Team in 2022, Josh has written for Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser.

You can email Josh on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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