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Indigenous Affairs Minister, Peter Collier, announced on 6 March 2012 that the Western Australian (WA) State Government would offer payment to eligible Aboriginal people who, in the past, were subjected to State-sanctioned financial controls.
Under past legislation, such as the Aborigines act 1905, and the Native welfare act 1963, employers of Aboriginal people - including State Governments - held money and property belonging to Aboriginal people in trust accounts. This practice has become known as ‘stolen wages'.
However, some organisations such as the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA) - who will be assisting clients with payment inquiries regarding the scheme - have slammed this move by the Government as 'heartless'.
'This is a slap in the face and a cruel and heartless offer which offends the very notion of recompense,' said ALSWA CEO Adjunct Professor Dennis Eggington. 'To now offer these people such a paltry amount diminishes the contributions that our people have made. Any offer made must also ensure that monies are repaid in terms of today's monetary value.'
Those eligible will need to lodge an application with the Department of Indigenous Affairs (DIA) before 6 September 2012. Further information on the scheme can be found on DIA's website, as well as through promotional materials released by ALSWA.
Source: Government of Western Australia and Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia
Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia
Mobile: 0428 948 610
Indigenous Affairs Minister's office
Ph: (08) 9213 7150
Mobile: 0439 904 770