Commissioner Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa announced

JOINT STATEMENT

The Palaszczuk Government has taken another historic step forward, appointing the inaugural Commissioner (Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa).

Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford congratulated C’Zarke Maza on his appointment as Commissioner.

“This role will help to resolve long-standing issues faced by Torres Strait Islander people whose legal identity does not reflect their cultural identity,” Mr Crawford said.

“The Commissioner (Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa) will make decisions on applications for the legal recognition of Torres Strait Islander traditional child rearing practices.

“Mr Maza has extensive experience in law, advocating for, and engaging with, Torres Strait Islander people; and as a Torres Strait Islander person has a deep understanding of the diversity and sensitivity of traditional child rearing practice.

“In his position as Regional Manager/Legal Practitioner with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, he was responsible for establishing a regional office on Thursday Island and satellite office in Bamaga, and advocating for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Torres Straits and Northern Peninsula Area.

“Other roles Mr Maza has held include Senior Criminal Lawyer with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Lecturer at Southern Cross University, Prosecution Officer with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) and Legal Practitioner at Legal Aid (ACT).

“As Commissioner, Mr Maza will consider applications seeking legal recognition of traditional child rearing practices and make Cultural Recognition Orders which transfer the parental rights and responsibilities to cultural parents.” “We want Torres Strait Islander families to enjoy the same rights and recognition as other Queensland families.

“Last year the Palaszczuk Government established new laws to provide legal recognition of Torres Strait Islander families’ continued use of traditional child rearing practice.

“The Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa (Torres Strait Islander Traditional Child Rearing Practice) Act 2020 passed in September 2020, formally acknowledges the importance of culture underpinning Torres Strait Islander family structures.”

Shannon Fentiman, Attorney-General and Ministerial Champion for the Torres Strait said it was such a privilege to work with the Torres Strait community on developing and enacting traditional child rearing practice laws in Queensland.

“This is a key issue for the community, one that is culturally sensitive too,” Ms Fentiman said.

“As the Ministerial Champion for the Torres Strait and as the Attorney-General, I welcome this appointment as it is a significant step forward in nurturing and healing the community through culturally appropriate laws for First Nations people.”

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the announcement is another milestone for this important initiative.

“The appointment of the inaugural Commissioner (Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa) means we are another step closer towards allowing people to apply for legal recognition of the traditional child rearing practice, which if granted, means they can get a birth certificate that reflects their lived identity, and opens easy access to Government services such as financial support and school enrolment.”

“Legally recognising Torres Strait Islander traditional child rearing practice and acknowledging the strength of this enduring culture is an important step in the Queensland Government’s journey to reframe its relationship with First Nations peoples.”

The new Commissioner C’Zarke Maza said he was extremely humbled and honoured to be appointed.

“I would like to acknowledge all the years of hard work of those many Torres Strait Islanders and other eminent people who were so critical in bringing about this process that allows for the legal recognition of our Ailan Kastom,” Mr Maza said.

“This important legislation and the office are the first of their kind and I feel privileged to be a part of this significant landmark in our history.

“The Torres Strait culture to this day continues to be alive and strong and I am committed to fulfilling the task towards the legal recognition of our traditional child rearing practices.”

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