$1 million in stolen wages repaid to indigenous workers

THE Palaszczuk Government's Stolen Wages Scheme is well underway with $1 million in reparations payments already made to eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders who had been robbed of their wages by previous governments.

Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Curtis Pitt said 473 claimants had received a reparations payment within the first three months of applications opening.

"We received strong community feedback that in making these payments priority had to be given to our most elderly claimants and anyone who is terminally ill and that's exactly what we are doing," Mr Pitt said.

"To date, we have largely distributed reparation top-up payments of $2,200 to 452 claimants and $1,100 to 19 claimants. In addition, we have also made two priority reparation payments of $4,600 each to new claimants who were terminally ill.

"This is only the beginning of the roll-out of payments and I expect we'll see a large volume of new applications coming in as the year progresses.

"These reparations payments are being made as part of a reconciliation effort to acknowledge the past injustices done to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders whose wages and savings were controlled under the 'Protection Acts'.

"I have personally written to 3,770 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders to inform them of their eligibility to receive a reparations payment under the Scheme."

Mr Pitt said during the time when the 'Protection Acts' were in force, not only were the wages and savings of Indigenous Peoples controlled or taken, the contributions of their labour to the development of Queensland went largely unrecognised.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders worked in the infrastructure sector building railways lines across Queensland, they contributed to the boom of the pearl industry using their specialised knowledge to collect pearls and they helped develop the agriculture sector with their work on sheep and cattle farms," Mr Pitt said.

"For me this Reparations Scheme is more than just making financial reparations. It is acknowledging the injustices of the past and putting new systems in place, such as the establishment of the Stolen Wages Reparations Taskforce, to achieve better outcomes.

Applications for Reparations Scheme close 16 December 2016. For more information free call 1800 619 505 or visit www.qld.gov.au/reparations

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