This morning I went along to the Brisbane stolen wages consultation at the Queensland Council of Trade Unions. I went with SistahG. During the Beattie years, the government decided to put aside $56 million as a compensation payment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
All but $21 million of that amount was distributed. The remainder amount was put aside into a foundation for an education scholarship program. This decision was made by cabinet without the consultation with the Aboriginal community. One of the Palaszczuk government’s election promises was creation of a task force led by the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to make recommendations to distribute the remainder of the $21 million.
Today was a reminder of the pain and trauma of how stolen wages, as well as a reminder at how inadequate the original $56 million arrangement was. It’s my believe that the figure should be more around $500 million.
I will write later in more detail about the details of stolen wages. But for today, just reflecting on the multigenerational impact of stolen wages, I feel angry and hopeless. While $21 million seems like a lot of money. After all the decisions are made, each claimant will be lucky to get more than $3000 each. $3000 for the decades of lost opportunity is unjust to say the least.