ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS—ABORIGINAL TRUST FUND REPAYMENT SCHEME QoN

Ms Barham to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Hunter, and Vice-President of the Executive Council representing the Minister for Citizenship and Communities, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

  1. How many direct and decedent claims have not been assessed by the Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme (ATFRS) panel?
    1. What is the total amount of funds that have been paid out of the ATFRS to date?
    2. What percentage of the total funds has been paid out to direct claimants?
    1. Is there a specific amount of funding available for fulfilment of ATFRS claims?
    2. If so, how would any residual or remaining funds be disbursed?
  2. When will the anticipated date of finalisation of all current claims?
    1. Has the scheme encountered a situation whereby descendent claims are rejected on the basis that funds have already been paid out to another descendent of a trust fund beneficiary?
    2. If so, how many claims have been rejected on this basis?
  3. How many beneficiaries or descendents of beneficiaries of the relevant trusts listed on the original 1938 beneficiary list have made claims under the scheme?
  4. What actions will be taken to advise claimants or descendents of claimants from the 1938 lists, who have not yet made an application under the ATFRS, that there is evidence of an entitlement?

 

Answer—

  1. All direct claims have been assessed. As at 30 June 2011, 618 (6.85%) claims are yet to be assessed.
  2.  
    1. I am advised that as of 30 June 2011, ex-gratia repayments totalling $6,075,712.57 have been approved.
    2. I am advised that at 30 June 2011, 45 per cent of total funds approved have been in relation to direct claimants.
  3. No.
  4. I am advised that the Scheme Guidelines provide claimants with a right of review of the assessment of their claim. Claimants have six weeks from the date of claims assessment to lodge a review. Therefore, the finalisation will occur when claims are fully processed.
  5.  
    1. I am advised that in relation to descendant claims, if a repayment is assessed as being owed an ex gratia repayment of $11,000 will be distributed to eligible living family members as follows, but only to the family members who registered with the Scheme by 31 May 2009. 
      If there is no will, the repayment will be made to a spouse (including a de facto partner) who had been living with the deceased for at least 2 years at the time of their death if they have registered with the Scheme. 
      If there is no spouse alive (or registered) then the repayment is distributed in equal shares between the living children of the deceased person who have registered with the Scheme. 
      If the spouse and children of the deceased Trust Fund holder have also died (or have not registered) then the money will be distributed in equal shares to the living grandchildren of the deceased person who have registered with the Scheme.
    2. I am advised that a small number of people not registered with the Scheme have sought to register with the Scheme following payments to family members. Payments cannot be made to unregistered family members as the trust funds have been disbursed.
  6. I am advised that the list of Endowee’ Balances as at 31st July, 1938 was included in the Aborigines Protection Report and Recommendations of the Public Service Board News South Wales as published by order of the Parliament of New South Wales on 4 April 1940. 
    Claims have been registered against 490 trust fund holders contained on the list of Endowee’ Balances as at 31st July, 1938.
  7. I am advised that inclusion on the list of Endowee’ Balances as at 31st July, 1938 is not of itself evidence of an entitlement to a repayment under the Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme. 
    Reforms to the Scheme in March 2009 included an extension of the period in which applicants could register, and the Government funded an extensive communication strategy, ensuring word of the Scheme spread throughout Aboriginal communities in NSW and across Australia. Various other organisations, including the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Legal Aid NSW, also conducted their own campaigns. The Legal Aid NSW campaign included the publication of the full list of Endowee’ Balances as at 31st July, 1938 in Indigenous print media.