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David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research
University of South Australia
Inaugural Reconciliation Lecture: Dr. Ros Kid

Presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre
and the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research

when: 28th May, 2015
time: 6.00 pm - 7.15pm
address: Allan Scott Auditorium, UniSA City West campus, Hawke Building,
55 North Terrace, Adelaide

Professor Marcia Langton authorised Ros Kidd's extraordinary access in 1989 to previously restricted files of Queensland's Aboriginal Affairs department.  Ros's subsequent PhD thesis exposed over 100 years of government controls over Aboriginal lives, work and finances.  Knowledge like this raised the question: do you complete your task and walk away, or do you use your knowledge as ammunition to assist others in their continuing fight for justice. Ros Kidd chose the latter path, as this public lecture will show. 

Against government threats, Dr Kidd produced evidence to the 1996 Human Rights Commission inquiry into the government's illegal underpayment of community workers during the 1970s and 1980s. Ultimately compensation of around $40 million was paid, although the files reveal over $180 million had been illegally withheld.

The long battle for Stolen Wages continues.  Millions of dollars of private wages and savings were lost during the seventy years of government control.  This money belongs to thousands of men, women and children contracted out as domestic servants and station workers.  Their cut-price wages and bank accounts were run in secret and levied in secret by successive governments, which also kept secret multiple audit and internal reports damning fraud and misappropriation.  To foreclose pending litigation on Stolen Wages, in 2002 the Queensland government offered reparations of $55.6 million, with severely restricted eligibility and paltry payments of up to $7000.

In 2006 Dr Kidd was instrumental in the establishment of the Senate Inquiry into Stolen Wages Nationally, a forum which allowed affected families to convey their experiences, and to which research scholars in each state exposed this shameful experiment in social engineering.  All state governments were exhorted to reveal their files on this matter and make due reparations.  But governments maintain their secrets and their profits.  And so the fight continues.

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