Stolen Wages Reparation Scheme WA
Under past legislation, such as the Aborigines Act 1905 and the Native Welfare Act 1963, employers, including the State Government, held money and property belonging to Aboriginal people from 1905 to 1972 in a complex network of trust accounts administered by the then Department of Native Welfare.
The control of wages was permitted under legislation which gave the Department the power to hold up to 75 per cent of earnings in a departmental trust account. There is little or no evidence that these wages were returned.
This was one of many unfortunate controls imposed on Aboriginal people by Commonwealth and State Governments across Australia.
Following the 2006 recommendations of the Commonwealth Parliament Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs recommending action on the matter of ‘stolen wages’, the former Western Australian State Government approved in May 2007 a Taskforce to examine the practices relating to the Government control of Aboriginal people’s money.
A project team subsequently undertook a process of consultation, archival research and policy analysis to understand the nature and scope of the issue. During the public consultation period, 62 meetings were held in 58 towns and communities, with approximately 920 attendees. This resulted in the receipt of more than 500 submissions.
It is important to acknowledge that due to a significant lack of reliable record-keeping, lapsed time and the sad passing of many people impacted by the actions authorised by successive governments dating back more than 100 years, it has been impossible to determine the full impact or the true value of any compensation.
The Stolen Wages Taskforce concluded that many Aboriginal people experienced some form of government control over their lives, including their income. However, limited documentation remains making it difficult to verify the number of people affected and how much was held in trust.
The 2008 Stolen Wages Taskforce report (attached below) is being made available to the general public in recognition of the many Aboriginal people who shared their stories.
Am I eligible?
The State Government is focused on bringing this unfortunate matter to a conclusion and Cabinet has agreed that an Ex gratia reparation payment of up to $2000 be made to living Aboriginal people who:
- Were born prior to 1958;
- From the age of 14 years or older were resident at a Government Native Welfare Settlement in Western Australia; and
- While resident at one or more of the Government Native Welfare Settlements in Western Australia experienced direct Western Australian Government control over their income and all or part of their income was withheld from them; and
- Were never repaid the outstanding monies owed by the Western Australian Government.
Applications for the Stolen Wages Reparation Scheme WA have now closed.
The deadline for applications closed at 5:00pm (Perth, Western Australia) on 30 November 2012.
If you need more information you can:
Click here for the following downloads: