The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today welcomes the Senate report following the Inquiry into Stolen Wages and calls upon the Federal, state and territory governments to respond immediately and collaboratively to the issues and recommendations within the report.
Charmaine Smith, Solicitor at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, said today:
It’s clear from the findings in the report that further research needs to take place into stolen wages practices at a national level. Compensation and repayment schemes must be established in each state and territory to address the issue of underpayment and non-payment of wages. The Senate committee have foreshadowed that failure to do so could result in costly and protracted litigation.
The inquiry was an important milestone in setting the record straight, but there is still a long road to travel to ensure that Australia understands fully the ongoing legacy of government practices in relation to Aboriginal wages and the failure to require equal wages for Aboriginal workers.
A vital aspect of moving forward is for the Commonwealth to grant funds to enable a comprehensive national oral history project. This will ensure that the stories of our elders are not lost. These stories are central to achieving a complete understanding the history of Australia. We commend the Senate on its recommendation for this to take place.
The Senate has recommended a compensation scheme that goes beyond the ambit of the scheme that is operating in NSW. This is a very welcome recommendation and we urge all governments, including NSW, to implement it.
PIAC looks forward to working with governments and the community to address the recommendations arising from the Senate’s report.
MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,
Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169