The West Australian Government announced it will pay $2,000 compensation for stolen wages from Aboriginal people.
From 1905 to 1972, the Department of Native Welfare could withhold up to 75% of an Aboriginal workers’ wage.
In order to receive compensation, the WA State Government requires people born after 1958 to prove that they had their wages withheld, and were residents of Native Welfare Settlements.
KLC CEO Nolan Hunter said that while this was a positive step from Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier, there was some concern about access to the compensation.
“I am concerned that the government needs to take into account that many Aboriginal people live in remote areas and have low literacy levels. They may find it hard to complete the statutory declaration in the timeframe,” he said.
“The government is only giving people six months for people to establish eligibility, and get a statutory declaration signed. It doesn’t seem like enough time.
“The offer of compensation of up to $2,000 for an individual, combined with the difficult task of proving wages were stolen does not offset what would have been a lifetime of work at less than the standard rate of pay.
“In other States across Australia there have been similar compensation schemes but they allowed people to present oral evidence as a way to assist them to prove their wages were stolen.”
The State Government has said it expects about 1500 people to access and be eligible for and access the compensation payments of $2,000, totaling $3 million in government expenditure.
Mr Hunter said the Australian Government endorsed and approved the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People in 2009.
“A fair go for all Australians includes the right to a decent wage, but the WA Government’s compensation package and the tight timeframe for application takes only a small step towards repairing the wrongs of the past,” he said.
Who is eligible?
You need to have:
- Been born before 1958 (aged 53 or over)
- Lived as a resident of a WA Government Native Welfare Settlement
- Be able to show you were affected by the practice of stolen wages
What you need to do:
- Complete a statutory declaration and lodge application within 6 months (on or before 6 September, 2012)
How do you lodge an application?
- Department of Indigenous Affairs
For more information and to download an application pack see their website: http://dia.wa.gov.au/en/Stolen-Wages/
Or call 1800 441 570 (free call).
What do you get?
- Potentially, if successful, a payment of up to $2,000