Last minute changes to Stolen Wages scheme need review

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) is calling on the NSW Government to extend the deadline for people to register a claim under the Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme (ATFRS) because of confusion that has arisen over changes to the Scheme’s operation.

The registration deadline is this Sunday (31 May) but recent changes made by the Government mean that many people who have a genuine claim may miss out altogether.

PIAC Chief Executive Officer, Robin Banks said, ‘The major change that many people may not be aware of is that instead of one person being able to register and make a claim on behalf of all relevant family members in relation to the monies owing to a deceased relative, all of those relevant family members must now separately register. This includes the deceased person’s spouse, all living children, or all living grandchildren. Basically anyone who thinks they may be entitled to share in the monies owing should register their claim before Sunday.’

Another major change to the Scheme is that all payments have been capped at $11,000.

‘While it is good that the Government has committed to ensuring that all successful claimants will receive $11,000, to impose this amount as a cap on all claims yet to be processed is not fair. PIAC has found that a number of claimants paid so far have been owed in excess of $11,000 and some in the region of $20-30,000. To exclude a whole group of claimants from receiving what is owed to them and has been paid to others is discriminatory’, Ms Banks added.

Stolen Wages refers to wages, benefits, pensions and other entitlements owed to Aboriginal people that were held in trust by the NSW Government from 1900 to the 1969 and never paid to those people.

PIAC’s Indigenous Justice Program, which is funded by Allens Arthur Robinson, has been actively promoting the Scheme and successfully lodging claims for clients since the Scheme began in 2008.

To contact the NSW Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme, call 1800 765 889.

For more information about PIAC’s Indigenous Justice Program (IJP), contact IJP Senior Solicitor, Vavaa Mawuli, on 02 8898 6527 or [email protected].

To interview Robin Banks call 02 8898 6508 or 0423 100 807

MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,

Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169

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