On Tuesday 7 September, after more than 30 years of advocacy by Kupai Omasker Elders, applications opened to allow Torres Strait Islanders raised by their extended family to change their legal identity from their biological parents to their cultural parents.
The Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa (Torres Strait Islander Traditional Child Rearing Practice) Act 2020 allows the Ailan Kastom traditional child rearing practice to not only be legally recognised but established a pathway to that recognition.
The legislation was introduced by Member for Cook, Cynthia Lui. Ms Lui was the first Torres Strait Islander elected to any Australian parliament.
Torres Strait Islander people can now make an application to transfer parentage via a cultural recognition order.
This order means the cultural parents become the legal parents of a child, and the birth parents stop being parents of the child. People raised under the Ailan Kastom system can have their birth certificate, passport, Medicare card or driver’s licence changed to reflect their cultural parentage.