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As Australia Day approaches, the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has released a Background Paper on the non-payment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers during the 20th Century.

Bishop Christopher Saunders, ACSJC Chairman, has urged all Australians to acknowledge the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers.  

“Australia Day is a time to acknowledge the contribution of all people who are a part of the Australian community. Over many generations people from a range of cultural backgrounds have helped to build the nation.  Sadly the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers is yet to be fully acknowledged.

There has been some movement by governments to recognise the wages that were not paid and to address this important issue.  But much more remains to be done in order to meet the demands of justice”, Bishop Saunders said.

In the state of Queensland an extended deadline for people to claim stolen wages will pass at the end of January.  However, by the end of 2005, only one third of the money allocated for the reparations package had been claimed.  The background paper titled “Stolen Wages: An Opportunity for Justice?” describes the response of Australian governments to date.

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