PIAC has worked effectively with Aboriginal people in NSW to recover ‘stolen wages’: wages, allowances and pensions held in trust by the NSW Government between 1900 and 1969 but never paid out.
PIAC was a leading voice in lobbying the NSW Government to right this wrong. PIAC’s work included obtaining documents under the Freedom of Information Act and using these to highlight the issue in the media.
In 2004, the NSW Government established the Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme (ATFRS) to assess claims and pay Aboriginal people and their descendants the money owed to them.
PIAC worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across NSW to:
- inform potential applicants about the Scheme and coordinate the provision of pro bono legal advice to applicants;
- provide legal support for direct claimants through the Stolen Wages Referral Scheme;
- advocate for an extension of the deadline for the Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme;
- provide extensive community outreach to raise awareness about the scheme and to assist Aboriginal people, particularly elders, to register claims; and
- successfully campaign for the scheme to accept oral evidence on the existence of trusts.
The Scheme finished processing claims at the end of 2011.
PIAC welcomes the recent recommendation of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into reparations for the Stolen Generations to re-establish the Aboriginal Trust Fund Scheme continue the repayment of stolen wages to Aboriginal people in NSW.