Catering For The 21st-Century Customer: Tips To Modernize Your Business

The world of business is changing at lightning speed. With customer demands and consumer habits evolving continually, modernization is key. If your business is lagging behind, and you’re keen to ensur...

News Company - avatar News Company

Treating suspected autism at 12 months of age improves children's language skills

The theory is that if therapies are started early enough, it might be possible to alter the trajectory of autism.ShutterstockTherapies given to infants before they receive a diagnosis of autism may le...

Andrew Whitehouse, Bennett Chair of Autism, Telethon Kids Institute, Univeristy of Western Australia, University of Western Australia - avatar Andrew Whitehouse, Bennett Chair of Autism, Telethon Kids Institute, Univeristy of Western Australia, University of Western Australia

Team-building exercises can be a waste of time. You achieve more by getting personal

The key to an effective team-builiding exercise is understanding a team is a social network built on connections between individuals.www.shutterstock.comSomeone we know recently told us about a team-b...

Julien Pollack, Associate Professor, University of Sydney - avatar Julien Pollack, Associate Professor, University of Sydney

Changing the Australian Constitution was always meant to be difficult – here's why

Debates about constitutional change in Australia inevitably raise the poor success rate of referendums. Only eight out of 44 attempts have ever succeeded and there has not been a successful constitut...

Anne Twomey, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Sydney - avatar Anne Twomey, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Sydney

Lights out! Clownfish can only hatch in the dark – which light pollution is taking away

Some 22% of the worlds' coastlines are exposed to artificial light at night. Emily Fobert, Author providedClownfish achieved worldwide fame following Finding Nemo, but it turns out these fish don&rsqu...

Emily Fobert, Research Associate, Flinders University - avatar Emily Fobert, Research Associate, Flinders University

An electronic chip that makes 'memories' is a step towards creating bionic brains

Researcher Taimur Ahmed holds the newly designed chip.Author providedWhat better way to build smarter computer chips than to mimic nature’s most perfect computer – the human brain?Being ab...

Sumeet Walia, Senior Lecturer and Vice Chancellor's Fellow, RMIT University - avatar Sumeet Walia, Senior Lecturer and Vice Chancellor's Fellow, RMIT University

As the federal government debates an Indigenous Voice, state and territories are pressing ahead

The Queensland treaty process is still in the early stages and negotiations will not begin for several years. But it's still a historic step forward for Indigenous communities.Tracey Nearmy/AAPQueensl...

Harry Hobbs, Lecturer, University of Technology Sydney - avatar Harry Hobbs, Lecturer, University of Technology Sydney

Your body as a weapon: the rise of the 'revenge body' online

A 'revenge body' is built to show someone how well you are doing without them. With the advent of social media the phenomenon is increasingly popular.ShutterstockMonths after a public breakup with her...

Mair Underwood, Lecturer in Anthropology and Sociology, The University of Queensland - avatar Mair Underwood, Lecturer in Anthropology and Sociology, The University of Queensland

Stop worrying about screen 'time'. It's your child’s screen experience that matters

Guidelines advise children under two shouldn't have any screen time, but most do anyway.Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on UnsplashMost (80%) Australian parents worry children spend too much time with sc...

Brittany Huber, Postdoctoral researcher, Swinburne University of Technology - avatar Brittany Huber, Postdoctoral researcher, Swinburne University of Technology

Finally, the NDIS will fund sex therapy. But it should cover sex workers too

Whether sex therapy should be a funded disability support has been controversial since the NDIS was rolled out.From shutterstock.comThe Administrative Appeals Tribunal recently granted a woman with mu...

Matthew Yau, Adjunct professor, College of Healthcare Sciences, James Cook University - avatar Matthew Yau, Adjunct professor, College of Healthcare Sciences, James Cook University

Politics with Michelle Grattan: Megan Davis on a First Nations Voice in the Constitution

Last week on this podcast we talked to Ken Wyatt about the government’s plan for a referendum – hopefully this parliamentary term – to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constit...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Team-building exercises can be a waste of time. You achieve more by getting personal

The key to an effective team-builiding exercise is understanding a team is a social network built on connections between individuals.www.shutterstock.comSomeone we know recently told us about a team-b...

The Conversation - avatar The Conversation

Americans focus on responding to earthquake damage, not preventing it, because they're unaware of their risk

Heavily built-up areas can experience more disastrous damage in an earthquake.AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezOn July 4 and 5, two major earthquakes, followed by several thousand smaller ones, struck Sout...

Matt Motta, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Oklahoma State University - avatar Matt Motta, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Oklahoma State University

Did we mishear Neil Armstrong's famous first words on the Moon?

It's the case of the missing 'a.'Nick Lehr/The Conversation via NASA, CC BY-SAOn July 20, 1969, an estimated 650 million people watched in suspense as Neil Armstrong descended a ladder towards the sur...

Melissa Michaud Baese-Berk, Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Oregon - avatar Melissa Michaud Baese-Berk, Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Oregon

The Queensland government’s in-principle agreement to pay A$190 million in compensation for the wages withheld from more than 10,000 Indigenous workers is a watershed moment for the stolen wages movement.

Indigenous people across Australia have been fighting for their denied and withheld wages for decades, both on the streets and in the courts. There have been some victories along the way and many setbacks.

The significance of the Queensland settlement (to settle a class action) is that it marks the first recognition these claims have legal as well as moral and political merit. Its ramifications are potentially limited, however, given the full injustice of how Indigenous wages were stolen.

A significant contribution

Historically Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women found work in farming, mining, roadbuilding, irrigation, fencing, gardening, pearling, sealing, fishing and domestic duties. But they were most concentrated in the cattle industry of northern Australia, from Western Australia to Queensland.

Tens of thousands worked on cattle stations from the 1880s to 1970s. The beef industry could not have survived without them. In 1913, the federal government’s Chief Protector of Aborigines, Baldwin Spencer, noted that “under present conditions, the majority of cattle stations are largely dependent on the work done by black "boys”. In the 1930s, when the rest of the economy floundered in the Great Depression, Indigenous labour helped keep the industry profitable.

Cattlemen at Victoria River Downs Station, Northern Territory, in 1953. Frank H. Johnston/National Library of Australia

Systemic stealing

Indigenous workers were entitled to be paid two-thirds of other workers, but even then employers often paid them less. Sometimes the low value of their wages was disguised by being paid in food and clothing rations. Sometimes workers were provided “store credit”, which could only be used to buy exorbitantly priced items.

Read more: Friday essay: the untold story behind the 1966 Wave Hill Walk-Off

Station managers may have justified under-payment on the basis they were “caring” for workers through providing scant food, clothing and accommodation.

Governments, meanwhile, “withheld” income – often putting money into trust funds that Indigenous people were unable to access. The Queensland government’s $190 million offer is to settle a class action claim for it misappropriating such trust funds.

The fact Indigenous people were vulnerable to such exploitation for decades was made possible by an intricate legislative regime that gave the state expansive powers over their lives. In all states and territories, Aboriginal Protection Acts gave the government officials the power to control the money earned by Indigenous workers.

In Queensland, historian Rosalind Kidd has estimated that 4,500 to 5,500 Indigenous pastoral workers may have lost wage entitlements worth more than $500 million between 1920 and 1968.

Redress schemes

There have been redress schemes in Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales.

The Queensland government set up the first redress scheme in 2002. It set aside $55.6 million to compensate any individuals who could supply documentary evidence their wages or savings were taken by the Queensland government. If they could do so – and there was a deadline of 2006 on claims – the scheme provided an ex gratia payment of $2,000 to $4,000.

These conditions set a high bar, and $21 million went unclaimed.

Western Australia established its scheme in 2012. It also involved a small ex gratia payment ($2,000) with a limited window to make claims. Claimants called the scheme insulting and mean-spirited. The ABC reported a source that said state treasury officials agreed individuals were owed as much as $78,000, and the government kept the work of its stolen wages taskforce quiet for years, waiting for potential claimants to die.

In distinction to these two schemes, the NSW Trust Funds Repayment Scheme (2006 and 2010) matched the wages withheld in trust funds between 1900 and 1969. It paid $3,521 for every $100 owed, or an $11,000 lump sum where the amount could not be established. This was the closest model to a reparations scheme, though also inhibited by bureaucratic requirements and time limitations.

Due to the limitations of all these state redress schemes, in 2006 a Senate Inquiry into Stolen Wages recommended a national scheme. But no federal government since has acted on this recommendation.

Legal claims

Stolen wages claimants have taken their cases to court in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland – but it is only in Queensland that they have had some success.

Read more: Australia's stolen wages: one woman's quest for compensation

One of those is the case of James Stanley Baird, who sued the Queensland government for withheld wages on the basis that paying under-award wages to Indigenous workers was in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. The state government compensated Baird and other plaintiffs the difference owed to them in damages and provided an apology.

Implications

The current settlement is based on a legal claim that the Queensland government breached its duty as a trustee and fiduciary in not paying out wages that were held in trust. The outcome is the most significant repayment for stolen wages plaintiffs in Australian history. Yet the benefits may be confined.

First, in Queensland there is a rich archive of documents (substantially unearthed and analysed by historian Rosalind Kidd) to prove the government misappropriated funds. Such a record may not exist elsewhere.

Second, the settlement only applies to wages placed in “trust accounts”. It has no implications for wages denied to Indigenous workers in other ways, such as by private employers who booked down wages or otherwise refused to pay.

For justice for all wronged Indigenous workers, there needs to be broad-based reparations for stolen wages. This requires truth commissions and a commitment by governments and anyone else that profited from that theft to restore what is owed.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/the-new-mabo-190-million-stolen-wages-settlement-is-unprecedented-but-still-limited-120162