New Bill “an historic piece of legislation recognising traditional child rearing practices”

New Bill “an historic piece of legislation recognising traditional child rearing practices”

by Freya Lucas

July 17, 2020

New legislation was introduced to Queensland State Parliament yesterday, Thursday 16 July, bringing Torres Strait Islander families and communities in Queensland a step closer to legal recognition of traditional child rearing practices.


The historic piece of legislation was introduced by Torres Strait Islander and Member for Cook, Cynthia Lui by way of a Private Member’s Bill, Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa (Torres Strait Islander Traditional Child Rearing Practice) Bill 2020.


Delivered to Parliament with the full support of the sitting Government, the Bill was adopted, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk saying for generations, Torres Strait Islanders have supported their children and each other in loving supportive extended families, but these family relationships have not been fully recognised in law.


“This legislation means children and adults who have grown up with traditional adoptive parents will finally have their legal identity match their cultural identity, supporting and strengthening their connection to community and culture,” she added.


Ms Lui is the first Torres Strait Islander elected to Queensland Parliament and the Bill represents an issue “close to her heart” and one which Torres Strait Islander leadership has been advocating for for more than 30 years, aiming to bridge the gap between traditional lore and western law for caregivers and children from extended Torres Strait Islander families.


“Not only is this nation leading but it’s world leading and this is a very important and proud day for the people of the Torres Strait” Ms  Palaszczuk said. 


Ms Lui said the Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa (Torres Strait Islander Traditional Child Rearing Practice) Bill 2020, has been “a long time coming.” 


“Legally recognising Torres Strait Islander traditional child rearing practice and acknowledging the strength of this enduring culture is a historic milestone in the Queensland Government’s journey to reframe its relationship with First Nations peoples,” Ms Lui said.


“The legislation enables people to apply for legal recognition of the traditional child rearing practice which if granted, means they can get a birth certificate that reflects their lived identity, and opens easy access to Government services such as financial support and school enrolment.”


The Bill was introduced to Parliament by Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Craig Crawford, who said the Bill was an important step in creating a contemporary legal system which evolves to “recognise, accommodate and celebrate the diversity of Queensland families.”


Torres Strait Ministerial Champion Shannon Fentiman has met with families across the Torres Strait, who have shared the cultural importance of this legislation.


“This is an historic piece of legislation that will ensure Torres Strait Islander children and adults who have been part of this traditional family structure can have their legal identity match their cultural identity,” Ms Fentiman said.


“This will mean they will be able to do things we take for granted such as having a passport in their own name or being able to obtain a drivers licence.”


A panel of Eminent Persons with legal and cultural expertise — Ms Ivy Trevallion; former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia the Honourable Alastair Nicholson; and Mr Charles Passi — led extensive community consultation ahead of the Bill’s introduction to State Parliament.


More information about the Bill and its implications may be found here.