Queensland to begin stolen wages compensation process

Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Curtis Pitt Source: AAP

Consultations to compensate Indigenous Queenslanders whose wages were stolen by the state through the 20th Century will commence later this year, the state government says.

A ministerial advisory group is set to travel through Queensland this year to consult with communities whose earnings were stolen by the state government, the Indigenous partnerships minister said Friday.

The new ALP state government has set up a $21 million fund to repay those who apply for payment and the compensation is expected to commence in early 2016, it announced earlier this week.

The Hon. Curtis Pitt, Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, said the move was an effort to bring justice to Queensland's First Peoples affected by the state's past discriminatory policies.

"Action was taken by recent Labor Governments to right the wrongs of past governments," he said. "But more must be done to bring the matter to conclusion."

For 70 years from 1904, Indigenous Queenslanders had their salaries held by authorities such as mission managers. Their money was forcibly controlled or disappeared.

"I know we will never erase the hurt and sorrow caused in the past, but it is a genuine attempt to recognise injustice and to do what we can to right a wrong"

"This meant that workers, some as young as 10, were barred from accessing basic entitlements and earnings all workers take for granted," Mr Pitt said. "This is a legacy of discrimination against past generations that the current generation must resolve."

The government will appoint a suitably qualified assessment panel to review, named the Stolen Wages Taskforce, to establish criteria for applications, verify claims and determine allocation amounts to ensure fair compensation.

"I know we will never erase the hurt and sorrow caused in the past, but it is a genuine attempt to recognise injustice and to do what we can to right a wrong," he told NITV News.

The government said it was willing to be flexible regarding compensation for descendants of those who were eligible but who had since passed.

Mr Pitt said a significant number of Indigenous elders right across Queensland, from Brisbane, Cherbourg, Stradbroke Island, Rockhampton, Townsville, Cairns and Mackay have expressed their concerns and are seeking to ensure that legitimate claims are addressed.

He called out for nominees to form the taskforce.

"We're looking for nominees who have knowledge or personal experience of stolen wages issues, along with strong community consultation and engagement skills."

Nominees must represent affected communities and have the capacity to consult communities within their regions as part of their role on the taskforce, he added.

Source NITV News

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch