Main Image: Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa Commissioner C’Zarke Maza and advocate Aunty Ivy Trevallion celebrate the world-first Cultural Recognition Order.
Tears of joy from a Torres Strait Islander family marked the first cultural recognition order to be granted in Queensland – and the world.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister and Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said the historic moment will encourage other Torres Strait Islander families to apply.
“This Torres Strait Islander child who has been granted a cultural order can now get a birth certificate, a Medicare card, driver’s licence and passport in the name of their cultural parents, reflecting the identity they have always known,’’ Mr Crawford said.
Under Aislan Kastom, a child is handed over from their birth parents and put in the care of their cultural parents who go on to raise them under the traditional practice known as Kupai Omasker.
“Legal recognition of Torres Strait Islander traditional child rearing practice is among the strongest acts of reconciliation in our state’s history as we progress a Path to Treaty in Queensland, and demonstrates culture can be protected through legislation,” Mr Crawford said.
“This is a significant moment in our nation’s shared history and speaks volumes for the tireless dedication, commitment and advocacy by generations of Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.”
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui, who tabled the law passed last September, said it provided the link for Torres Strait Islander people to experience the same basic identity rights as every other Queenslander.
“They can enrol in school, access government services and support and pursue aspirations in work, study and life,” Ms Lui said.
Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa Commissioner C’Zarke Maza said the opportunity to receive a cultural order has life-changing potential for generations of Torres Strait Islander children.
“It is a privilege to be part of the process and officially grant the first of many cultural recognition orders for Torres Strait Islander families,’’ Commissioner Maza said.
Mr Maza is a descendant of the Meriam people of Mer (Murray Island) in the Torres Strait Islands and Yidinjdji people from the coast of Cairns and commenced duties as the inaugural Commissioner (Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa) in July 2021.
“The mere act of signing off and stamping the first Cultural Recognition Order is more than just an official endorsement,” he said.
“It reflects the heart of so many who have sown their souls into getting this ancient and enduring cultural practice recognised in law.”
He said formal recognition will remove legal barriers many Torres Strait Islander families have previously faced, including access to school, identity documents and wills.
“I hope Torres Strait Islander families are encouraged by this world-first achievement and the positive impact it can have on generations of Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities,” he said.
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
The Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa (Torres Strait Islander Traditional Child Rearing Practice) Act 2020 is the first piece of legislation to use traditional Islander languages in Queensland and was introduced by Cynthia Lui MP, the first Torres Strait Islander elected to any Australian parliament.