Queensland achieves nation-leading recognition of Torres Strait Islander traditional child rearing practice

Published Tuesday, 07 September, 2021 at 05:00 AM

Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
The Honourable Craig Crawford

Queensland today (Tuesday, September 7) marks the historic milestone of the opening of applications to recognise Torres Strait Islander traditional child rearing practice under new law that translates as “for our children’s children’’.

It follows more than 30 years of advocacy by Kupai Omasker Elders to allow Torres Strait Islanders raised by extended family to transfer their legal identity from birth parents to cultural parents.

Minister for Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford will today officially open applications for Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa Cultural Recognition Orders at a ceremony in Cairns.

"This is a living act of reconciliation,” Mr Crawford said.

“It will enable more Torres Strait Islander people to experience and access the same basic rights to identity as every other Queenslander."

In September last year, The Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa (Torres Strait Islander Traditional Child Rearing Practice) Act 2020 became the first piece of legislation to use traditional Islander languages in Queensland.

It was introduced by Member for Cook Cynthia Lui, the first Torres Strait Island person elected to any Australian parliament.

"This is a symbolic milestone on our path to re-writing the narrative of reconciliation in Queensland,'' Ms Lui said.

Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa Commissioner C’Zarke Maza will oversee the application process with powers to make a Cultural Recognition Order, which if granted, will enable a new birth certificate to be issued, and will transfer parentage of a child or adult to Cultural Parents.

“No longer will our Ailan Kastom be a reason for us, as Torres Strait Islander people to be marginalised in society,’’ Mr Maza said.

“Torres Strait Islander families will now have an application process that will remove the many legal barriers and allow their cultural identity to reflect their legal identity and lived experience.

“Our priority now is to help individuals and families navigate the application process, so Torres Strait Islanders of all ages raised in extended families can access the same opportunities to enrol in school, access government support, pursue new opportunities and thrive.”

The Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa program support offices are located at:

  • Level 3 CitiCentral Building, 46-48 Sheridan Street, Cairns Qld
  • Level 1 Torres Haus, 46 Victoria Parade, Thursday Island Qld

For more information, free call 1800 571 102, email office@ocmokk.qld.gov.au or visit www.ocmokk.qld.gov.au


Media contact:     Peter Michael 0477 948 091