• Father's and babies hands, York Island,Torres Strait, Queensland, Australia. (The Image Bank RF)Source: The Image Bank RF
Torres Strait Islander people will gather in Townsville today for the first round of community consultations to discuss the historical adoption bill introduced in Queensland parliament last month.
Douglas Smith

3 Aug 2020 - 3:45 PM  UPDATED 3 Aug 2020 - 3:45 PM

The first round of community consultations for the Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa Bill 2020 will begin today in Townsville, with the historic legislation aimed at bringing traditional Torres Strait Islander adoption practices into law. 

The Bill, also known as the Torres Strait Islander Traditional Child Rearing Practice Bill 2020, was introduced in the Queensland parliament last month by Iamalaig woman Cynthia Lui, and allows children to be adopted by a relative or community member to benefit the child culturally, among other factors.   

In a statement, Chairperson of the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee said the proposed legislation was the first of its kind to align Torres Strait Islander Lore with Queensland law.

“The committee will place a great importance on hearing the views of Torres Strait Islanders in person and all others with an interest in the proposals contained in the bill,” said Mr Harper. 

“I encourage all persons with an interest in the Torres Strait 'Ailan Kastom' (Island custom) child rearing practices to contact the committee and register to attend one of our regional hearings that will be held from 3 to 7 August. 

“There will be public and private hearings in each location."

If passed, the Bill will give cultural parents the full rights to make decisions about their child, as well as giving the child the same legal rights as other children of the cultural parents, including inheritance rights.

The legislation will also introduce a commissioner with the authority to approve or decline traditional adoptions. 

The public hearing will take place at the Ville Resort-Casino today from 4.30-7pm.

For our children's children: Torres Strait Islander adoption bill introduced to Queensland parliament
Iamalaig woman Cynthia Lui fought back tears as she introduced the historic bill, which allows relatives or community members to adopt a child in unforeseen circumstances.

Ancient practice to modern law: How legalising island adoption will change lives in the Torres Strait
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