Slavery action could begin early next year, say lawyers

Landmark ‘slavery’ action could begin in West Australian courts in the first half of next year.

A spokeswoman for national law firm Shine said documents in the class action could be filed with the courts in the New Year. They were likely to be lodged in WA.

NIT revealed exclusively in September that the WA government was facing an unprecedented class action for treating Aboriginal workers like slaves more than a half a century ago.

Lawyers for Shine have been investigating whether government-sanctioned working conditions akin to slavery operated in the State.

The move follows legal action in the Federal Court in Queensland to recover lost wages for about 300 Aboriginal workers or their descendants.

Shine lawyer Rebecca Jancauskas told NIT in September the WA situation appeared to be unique.

While wages were held in trust for the Queensland workers but not paid, in WA it was not even a requirement of the State laws of the time that Indigenous people receive a wage, so long as they were given food and board, she said.

Wendy Caccetta

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