The Queensland Government has passed the Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa Act 2020 (Qld), recognising the traditional child rearing practices of Torres Strait Islander families.

Introduced in July by Torres Strait Islander and Member for Cook, Cynthia Lui, the Act recognises cultural relationships in law, aligning cultural identity with legal identity.

Lui said the passing of the Act “supports and strengthens people’s connection to community and culture”.

“For generations, Torres Strait Islanders have supported their children and each other in loving, supportive extended families,” she said.

“Until now, these family relationships have never been fully recognised in law. This Act means children and adults who’ve grown up with traditional adoptive parents will finally have their legal identity match their cultural identity.”

Lui said legally recognising Torres Strait Islander child rearing practices acknowledges “the strength of this enduring culture and is [an] historic milestone” for the Queensland Government’s relationship with First Nations peoples.

The Member for Cook took to Instagram last night to celebrate the Bill’s passing, saying it was “a victory for all Torres Strait Islanders and all Queenslanders who want to see a more inclusive and accepting State”.

“A truly historic day in Queensland! I am so proud that a Bill I moved in Parliament was able to accomplish this massive victory for Torres Strait Islanders,” she wrote.

“Queensland is showing Australia and the world the respect it has for one of the oldest cultures on the planet.”

“All Queenslanders should be proud of what its Parliament has achieved on this day and for what the passage of this law means for Queensland’s future.”

 

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Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said Lui was central to the Bill’s passing.

“As the first Torres Strait Islander elected to Queensland Parliament, Ms Lui has led this very important and proud day for the people of the Torres Strait,” the Premier said.

“Torres Strait Islander leadership has been advocating to have this cultural practice legally recognised 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.”

The Palaszczuk Government has committed to investing $1 million into the legislation over three years.

“It’s important that our contemporary legal system evolves to recognise, accommodate and celebrate the diversity of Queensland families” said Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Craig Crawford.

Translating to ‘for our children’s children’, community consultations for the Bill were undertaken in 2018. The new Act is the first of its kind to align with Queensland law and Torres Strait Islander lore.

By Hannah Cross