Commission urges Govt to re-negotiate "stolen wages" package

Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged the Queensland Government to undertake further consultation with Indigenous communities on the Indigenous Wages and Savings Reparations Project which was established in 2002.

The Project is a response to the injustices which resulted from a policy of restricting and controlling Indigenous worker's wages from the 1890s to 1972.

It is estimated that up to 60% of affected Indigenous workers' pay was placed in a general trust fund and a further 10% into the Aborigines Welfare Fund.

Indigenous workers have not had access to these funds and the State Government's Project offered eligible workers an apology in Parliament and a lump sum payment of either $2000 or $4000, but recipients must relinquish their right to take legal action to recover any further unpaid wages.

The Commission's Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Commission is very concerned that the Project's offer will close at the end of this year with many Indigenous people still very dissatisfied with the offer and the process.

"The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mr Tom Calma, has rightly identified the key concerns of many Indigenous people including the inadequacy of the process that has been used the size of the reparation offered, the scope of the indemnity required, and the lack of information available to enable them to assess how much money they have lost in their working lives," Mr Arndt said.

"The State Government continues to pressure affected Indigenous people to accept the offer as an act of reconciliation and this is totally inappropriate," Mr Arndt said.

The Commission is encouraging Catholics and people of goodwill to get involved in the Stolen Wages Campaign and to lobby their local Member of Parliament for further consultation and re-negotiation of the package before the end of the year.

Commission Urges Queensland Government to Re-Negotiate "Stolen Wages" Package (Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Archdiocese of Queensland 11/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (Archdiocese of Brisbane)
Indigenous Wages and Savings Reparations Project
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice (HREOC)
Stolen Wages Campaign (ANTaR Queensland)

14 Jul 2005