What historic Torres Strait child bill means for families

LORE has become law after historic legislation passed in Queensland parliament to legally recognise the traditional child-rearing practices of Torres Strait Islanders.

Cook MP Cynthia Lui made history when she became the state's first Torres Strait Islander to be voted into any Australian parliament.

Now she has led the successful push for the Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa Act to officially recognise traditional custom in Queensland law.

It means children raised by someone other than biological parents - a practice ingrained in the culture - will have their identities acknowledged.

Cook MP Cynthia Lui speaks in parliament. PICTURE: TARA CROSER
Cook MP Cynthia Lui speaks in parliament. PICTURE: TARA CROSER

"For generations, Torres Strait Islanders have supported their children and each other in loving, supportive extended families. Until now, these family relationships have never been fully recognised in law," Ms Lui explained.

"This Act means children and adults who've grown up with traditional adoptive parents will finally have their legal identity match their cultural identity."

The change should make it easier to get birth certificates, reduce complications when birth parents challenge custody arrangements, and ensure access to inheritance if adoptive parents die without a will.

Torres Strait Islander social worker Aunty Ivy Trevallion said the legislation would address lifelong issues.

"We trust this legislation will help remove identification barriers for participation in important areas such as education, health, housing and finance to ensure our young people raised through traditional child rearing practices don't get left out," she said

Opposition Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships spokesman Dr Christian Rowan supported the legislation but called for a review in two years to iron out issues.

He said legal recognition had been worked on for the better part of three decades.

"It is unfortunate that this legislation has been effectively rushed through in order to be presented to and passed by the parliament before this final sitting week," he said.

Originally published as What historic Torres Strait child bill means for families