Friday, 30 September 2016
ABC News, 23 September 2016:
Lawyers say a class action in Queensland over unpaid wages to Aboriginal people is setting a national precedent, as dozens more come forward in other states to say they were not paid properly.
More than 300 people are suing the Queensland Government in the Federal Court, which held money in a trust that should have been paid to them as labourers or domestic workers more than half a century ago.
Rebecca Jancauskas, from Shine lawyers, said the class actions first directions hearing this week had revealed that the litigation proceedings would be speedy because of the advanced age of the claimants.
"It was clear that these claims are being taken seriously by federal court bench," she said.
"And proceedings have set the tone for litigation in other states where protectionist legislation was in place and wages were withheld from Indigenous people.
"So what we're doing at Shine is investigating bringing proceedings in other states — including the Northern Territory, Western Australia and NSW."……
The Queensland Government did set up a reparations scheme in 2002, but Ms Jancauskas said claimants only received between $2,000 and $7,000 for decades of work as labourers, stockmen or domestic servants.
"The amount they received through the reparations scheme was but a fraction of the money that the Government is holding in trust for them," Ms Jancauskas said.
"Had people received their entitlements through reparations schemes, then there would be no need for litigation to be pursued."
Those who took part in the scheme had to sign a deed of release, stopping them from taking further action.
But Ms Jancauskas said that would not stop them from participating in the litigation.