Aboriginal Stolen Wages Class Action

Information about the recent settlement agreement 
Last updated:

The WA Government has reached a settlement agreement that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who worked in Western Australia for little or no wages between 1936 and 1972. 

The settlement, which remains subject to Court approval, recognises the government policies and controls in place during this period.  

These historical policies resulted in many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly those working in the Kimberley region, on pastoral stations and within Native Institutions being paid little or no wages in the claim period.  

What is a class action? 

A class action is a case brought by one person (called the 'Applicant') on behalf of a group of people (called the 'group members') against another party (called the 'Respondent'), based on the same, similar, or related circumstances. 

Who are the parties in this class action? 

In this case, the Applicant is Mr Mervyn Street and the Respondent is the State of Western Australia. The group members are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have similar claims to Mr Street. This includes the children and spouses of a deceased person, where the deceased person had a similar claim. 

What is the settlement agreement? 

The WA Government will pay into an administered fund a sum of $16,500 in respect of each eligible claimant, up to a total of $165 million. This maximum total figure would only be paid if there are 10,000 or more eligible claimants. 

An additional sum of up to $15.4 million is set aside for the applicant’s assessed legal costs.  

The sum to be distributed to each eligible claimant will be determined by the Federal Court and will be dependent on the number of eligible claimants and other deductions to be approved by the Federal Court.  

This will occur following a registration process to be led by Shine Lawyers, which the Court will be asked to approve. 

Am I eligible to make a claim? 

To make a claim: 

  • you must be an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander or the spouse or child of an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (descendant claimant); 

  • you, or your parent or spouse, must have worked in Western Australia between 1936 and 1972; and 

  • you or your parent or spouse were paid no or nominal wages for the work performed during this period. 

How do I make a stolen wages claim? 

Information for those wishing to submit a claim is in the publications below. If you would like further information please contact Shine Lawyers on wastolenwages@shine.com.au

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander claimants are advised that the claim registration form may include questions in relation to people who have died. 

Where do I go to find proof of identity documents to support my claim? 

In making a claim, applicants will be required to provide certain information relating to identification and employment history.  

The WA Government has also agreed to assist community members to obtain information supporting their claims, where available and will provide further information soon.