Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation Mr ELMES (Noosa—LNP) (2.59 pm):
It is appropriate on National Sorry Day to highlight a great success story for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I refer to the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation that was set up by the Beattie government as reparation under what is known as stolen wages.
The Beattie government set up that fund, administered that fund and, having exhausted recipients to pay out for lost wages, closed the fund down. With the residual money— $26 million—it set up the QATSIF trust under the Public Trustee.
The sole object of the trust is to make available scholarships to young Indigenous men and women in grades 11 and 12 to enable them to complete their secondary education and provide them with a solid start to their working career. This it has done in exceptional circumstances. This year QATSIF will allocate just over $2.2 million to assist 1,208 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to graduate from grade 12.
I congratulate the 200 Queensland schools who partner with QATSIF. I pay tribute to Aunty Ruth Hegarty, the patron of QATSIF, and Professor Cindy Shannon, the chair, and her board. At long last there are changes to the trust fund which now allow for donations to be made available to it. I encourage businesses and individuals to do just that so that QATSIF can expand its operations.
QATSIF was born out of stolen wages, one of the most shameful examples of interaction between Indigenous people and Europeans. While it is important to understand the past and indeed to be angry at past deeds, in the absence of a machine to take us there we simply cannot live in the past. You can teach history, be mindful of it and make sure it is never forgotten, but at some point you have to live in today’s space.
Some 1,200 people this year have a future because of history. The latest reparations scheme does concern me. $21 million is the value of this fund set up under pressure from a trade union, with little detail being provided and little reporting on its activities. It should very quickly fulfil its charter, with excess money provided to the QATSIF trust.
Education is the key for the future of Indigenous people in this state. We have seen from events in Aurukun the anger, particularly from mothers, when a pathway to education is withdrawn, even temporarily. QATSIF, both 2172 National Injury Insurance Scheme (Queensland) Bill 26 May 2016 in its present form and what it could become, is in a position to educate and provide a solid base for a successful life in work for Indigenous people.
This parliament should embrace QATSIF, expand it where it can and support it to its fullest extent.