Terms of reference

Inquiry into Stolen Wages

Terms of reference

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With regard to Indigenous workers whose paid labour was controlled by Government:

  1. the approximate number of Indigenous workers in each state and territory whose paid labour was controlled by government; what measures were taken to safeguard them from physical, sexual and employment abuses and in response to reported abuses;
  2. all financial arrangements regarding their wages, including amounts withheld under government control, access by workers to their savings and evidence provided to workers of transactions on their accounts; evidence of fraud or negligence on Indigenous monies and measures implemented to secure them; imposition of levies and taxes in addition to federal income tax;
  3. what trust funds were established from Indigenous earnings, entitlements and enterprise; government transactions on these funds and how were they secured from fraud, negligence or misappropriation;
  4. all controls, disbursement and security of federal benefits including maternity allowances, child endowment and pensions, and entitlements such as workers compensation and inheritances;
  5. previous investigations by states and territories into official management of Indigenous monies;
  6. current measures to disclose evidence of historical financial controls to affected Indigenous families; the extent of current databases and resources applied to make this information publicly available; whether all financial records should be controlled by a qualified neutral body to ensure security of the data and equity of access;
  7. commitments by state and territory governments to quantify wages, savings and entitlements missing or misappropriated under official management; the responsibility of governments to repay or compensate those who suffered physically or financially under 'protection' regimes;
  8. what mechanisms have been implemented in other jurisdictions with similar histories of Indigenous protection strategies to redress injustices suffered by wards; and
  9. whether there is a need to 'set the record straight' through a national forum to publicly air the complexity and the consequences of mandatory controls over Indigenous labour and finances during most of the 20th century.

Please note that the Committee's inquiry will be focussed on the inquiry's terms of reference only. The Committee is not able to consider, or respond to, any applications or claims for compensation.


For further information, contact:

Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: +61 2 6277 3560
Fax: +61 2 6277 5794
Email: legcon.sen@aph.gov.au