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Sorry Day - NSW yet to repay Stolen Wages

Sorry Day - NSW yet to repay Stolen Wages

Sorry Day is a good opportunity for the NSW government to promise that the state budget will include a missing $65 million owed to Aboriginal families for wages stolen from them over many decades, Greens MLC Ian Cohen said today.

“Aboriginal people are owed money for decades of institutional theft, but so far the Government has produced very little. Because the government is dragging the chain on this issue, some of the more elderly claimants could die before they see their money.

“This is not the state's money to bestow or withhold. This is
Aboriginal earnings and entitlements that the state as trustee was legally bound to safeguard.”

The NSW Government announced in 2004 it would repay only $15 million to families and descendents who had wages stolen from them as early as the 1920s and up until the late 1960s, despite leaked documents showing close to $80 million was possibly owed.

“Claimants are experiencing lengthy delays in the process, including having to wait months to even receive claim forms. I understand that claim forms for descendant claimants have not even been made available yet. Representatives of claimants are also being hampered in the process of accessing relevant documentation.”

Mr Cohen said an added incentive for the Premier to heal wounds could be the landmark Sorry Day, which occurs tomorrow.

“This government is as guilty as the ones before it of denying some Aboriginal people the chance to break a cycle of poverty. Consistent denial entrenches generational poverty and that is a crime this government will be remembered for.

“The Premier could change that if he chose to announce that Aboriginal people will be repaid in full when he delivers the budget on 6 June.” Mr Cohen said.

© Scoop Media

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