State of Western Australia
The 'Stolen Wages Reparation Scheme WA' was established in 2012 as the Western Australian Government's response to investigations by the Stolen Wages Taskforce into the wages earned by Aboriginal people but held by their guardians. The Taskforce's research and consultations found that there was 'little or no evidence that these wages were returned' to the people who earned them. The Taskforce also found that people who were under guardianship at Carrolup, Moore River and Sister Kate's Children's Home 'experienced the most extensive controls' over their wages. The 'purpose and intent' of the Stolen Wages Reparation Scheme WA, according to the Scheme's Guidelines (sec.4) was to be 'an expression of regret on behalf of the Western Australian State Government' to eligible applicants. Applications for an ex gratia payment up to $2,000 opened on 6 March 2012 with the closing date extended from 6 September to 30 November 2012.
Until 1972, laws in Western Australia allowed employers to hold up to 75 per cent of the wages of Aboriginal people in a 'complex network of trust accounts' administered by government departments. In 2006, the Australian Parliament's Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs recommended that State governments take action to remedy this. In May 2007 the Western Australian State Government approved a Task Force to investigate practices in WA.
On 6 March 2012, the State Government announced 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.
Sources used to compile this entry: Department of Aborginal Affairs/Department of Indigenous Affairs, Annual Reports, Government of Western Australia, Perth, W.A., 2007-2015. Also available at http://www.daa.wa.gov.au/about-the-department/publications/. Annual Report 2009-2010 p.33.; Department of Aboriginal Affairs, State of Western Australia, Department of Aboriginal Affairs, http://www.daa.wa.gov.au; Reconciling The Past: Government control of Aboriginal monies in Western Australia, 1905-1972 [Document], Date: June 2008; Stolen Wages Taskforce, Reconciling The Past: Government control of Aboriginal monies in Western Australia, 1905-1972, Department of Indigenous Affairs, Western Australia, June 2008, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/IndigLRes/2008/3.html. p.25..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 29 August 2012, Last modified: 5 April 2017