andrew gunstone on stolen indigenous wages and reparations


Andrew Gunstone, ‘Indigenous Stolen Wages and Campaigns for Reparations in Victoria’, Indigenous Law Bulletin 12, 8 (2013).

During most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Australian governments developed a number of practices that ensured they  and their agencies controlled the wages, savings and benefits of Indigenous people. Today, these practices are known as the stolen wages practices. They have substantially impacted upon generations of Indigenous people and have been referred to as ‘slavery’. Many Indigenous people throughout Australia never received the monies owed to them, due to government mismanagement and fraud. The overall amount of wages, savings and benefits owed to Indigenous peoples throughout Australia is extremely substantial. Ross Kidd noted that ‘in Queensland alone, it has been estimated that as much as $500 million in today’s value was lost or stolen from Indigenous families’. This short paper focuses specifically on stolen wages in Victoria. The paper is divided into three sections. Firstly it outlines the research that has been conducted on the history of stolen wages practices in Victoria and the impact of these practices on Indigenous Victorians. This section also briefly discusses the level of research conducted on stolen wages practices in other states and territories. Secondly, it looks at the general political campaigns for justice for those impacted by stolen wages that are being conducted in some states and territories before examining the campaign being run by Indigenous Victorians and their supporters in more depth. Finally, the paper looks at the reparation schemes to address the legacies of stolen wages developed by the New South Wales (‘NSW’),
Queensland (‘Qld’) and Western Australian (‘WA’) governments and the failure of the Victorian government to develop a Victorian reparation scheme.

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