• Iamalaig woman, Cynthia Lui (centre), stands with TSI Traditional Owners and Minister for Aboriginal and TSI Partnerships, Craig Crawford. (Annastacia Palaszczuk Facebook. )Source: Annastacia Palaszczuk Facebook.
The Meriba Omasker Zaziw Kazipa (For our Children's Children) Act 2020, has passed the Queensland Parliament, legally recognising ancient Torres Strait Islander adoption practices.
Keira Jenkins

9 Sep 2020 - 1:04 PM  UPDATED 10 Sep 2020 - 10:38 AM

Ancient Torres Strait Islander adoption practices have been legally recognised in Queensland, after the state parliament passed a new law on Tuesday night.

The Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa Act 2020, which means 'For Our Children's Children', allows for children to be adopted by relatives or other community members.

Queensland MP and Iamalaig woman, Cynthia Lui, who represents the Far North seat of Cook, said Torres Strait Islanders have raised their children in loving, supportive extended families or kinship groups for generations.

"Until now, these family relationships have never been fully recognised in law," she said.

"This act means children and adults who've grown up with traditional adoptive parents will finally have their legal identity match their cultural identity."

Torres Strait Islander leaders have been advocating for decades to have the ancient cultural practice legalised.

Previously, children could only take the name of their biological parents as the family or kinship relationships were not recognised.

This resulted in many identification issues, resulting in difficulty getting a passport or drivers license or access to education, health, banking and housing services.

The bill passed into law unanimously in state parliament with support from the Opposition and cross bench.

The bill was introduced in July, by Ms Lui, who is the first Torres Strait Islander to be elected to an Australian parliament.

In introducing the bill to parliament, Ms Lui said it had been "an incredibly long journey" for Torres Strait Islander people to see the practice recognised in Queensland law.

"As a child, I wondered why as Torres Strait Islanders, we do not publicly discuss our traditional child rearing," she said.

"Today, I speak in my cultural truth that children who are raised under this practice deserve only love, respect, dignity and acceptance, and the questions about who they are and where they come from are irrelevant.

"This practice ensures that the child's cultural right is treated with the utmost respect and dignity they deserve.”

Aunty Ivy Trevallion, who chaired the Kupai Omasker working group, said the law would preserve traditional child-rearing practices while removing legal barriers.

Queensland is the first state in Australia to adopt the law, fulfilling a promise made by the Palaszczuk government at the 2017 state election.

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.