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  • Published 20150127
  • ISBN: 9781922182678
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

Finalist in the United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Awards 2015 in the Promotion of Indigenous Recognition Award category.

Judges’ comments: ‘Finger Money’ is a credit to its three authors. By combining each author’s expertise in exploring and investigating the scandalous and ongoing ‘stolen wages’ affair, the authors illustrate the power of combining Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal experiences to reveal the impact of deceit and denial of the truth by the Western Australian government toward Aboriginal people. The research, as displayed in this article, is in-depth and engaging, while contributing to a major exposé of injustice in Australia. The stories told here have the potential to be conveyed across various media making them accessible to a broad audience.

IN THE KIMBERLEY, Aboriginal people were forced to work on pastoral stations from the 1880s. The impact of station life became all-consuming. Whole communities and even entire language groups attempted to survive this tranformation of traditional life by continuing to work and live on stations, yet remaining close to country to maintain law and culture. Colonisation in the form of pastoral leases was protected and patrolled by the Western Australian police, in theory until the 1967 citizenship referendum, but in practice until the 1980s. From 1905 to 1954 people worked under a permit system operated by the state government, which purported to oversee and uphold work and living conditions, but was in fact a system of containment and forced labour that limited traditional livelihoods and ensured subservience by withholding income, the consequences of which have lingered for generations.

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About the author

Judy Harrison

Judy Harrison is a lawyer, senior lecturer at ANU and consultant whose experience includes Aboriginal justice issues, coalition building and social movements.

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