Indigenous Australian wants early pension due to short lives

Sep 26, 2021, 3:32 PM | Updated: Sep 27, 2021, 3:41 am
In this photo provided by Human Rights Law Centre, Dennis Fisher poses for a photo in Melbourne, Au...

In this photo provided by Human Rights Law Centre, Dennis Fisher poses for a photo in Melbourne, Australia, in January 2021. Fisher is taking the Australian government to court to argue that Indigenous people should have access to the age pension earlier than other Australians because Indigenous life expectancy is years shorter. (Human Rights Law Centre via AP)

(Human Rights Law Centre via AP)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Aboriginal man is taking Australia’s government to court to argue that Indigenous people should have access to their pensions earlier than other Australians because their life expectancy is years shorter.

Dennis Fisher, 64, said on Monday he is taking the action to benefit other Indigenous Australians.

“A lot of us die at a young age,” Fisher said. “If I can help my people somehow, yeah,” he added.

The case was filed in Federal Court in Melbourne last Thursday by the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, the Human Rights Law Center and the multinational law firm DLA Piper.

The case will argue that Indigenous people should be able to access their pensions earlier to account for the gap in life expectancy until that gap is closed, Fisher’s lawyers said in a statement.

Indigenous men have a life expectancy of 71 years and Indigenous women 75 years. That’s 8.6 years shorter than other Australian men and 7.8 years shorter than other Australian women.

Australia’s minimum pension age will increase to 67 by July 2023, six months more than the current age and a year older than it was in July 2019. The government is pressuring an aging population to retire later.

Meena Singh, an Indigenous lawyer and senior adviser to the Human Rights Law Center, said Fisher’s test case centers on Section 10 of the Racial Discrimination Act which deals with a group of people that has lesser rights than another group.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston, who is responsible for pensions, said in a statement her government’s “number one priority is working with Indigenous communities to make the real and practical changes necessary to achieve better life outcomes for Indigenous Australians.”

She pointed to the government’s pledge in August to spend 1.1 billion Australian dollars ($813 million) to address Indigenous disadvantages, including compensation to thousands of mixed-race children who were taken from their families over decades.

Indigenous Australians account for 3% of the population and have poorer health, lower education levels and shorter life expectancies than other ethnic groups. Indigenous adults account for 2% of the Australian population and 27% of the prison population.

Fisher has worked since he was 10, first on a dairy farm that was designed to train Indigenous children to become agricultural laborers.

He was among an estimated 10,000 Indigenous workers who claimed their wages were stolen by the Queensland state government between 1939 and 1972. The government settled a class action in 2019 and Fisher received a share of the AU$190 million ($138 million) payout.

He now holds two jobs in Melbourne as a broadcaster at an Indigenous community radio station and as Aboriginal heritage guide.

In 2008, the Australian Parliament apologized to the Indigenous population for past wrongs since British colonization. The then-government also launched an ambitious Closing the Gap initiative aimed at achieving equality for Indigenous Australians in health and life expectancy within a generation.

But current Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government scrapped the 12-year-old timetable last year, declaring the policy had failed.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Philadelphia-area transit union authorized to call strike

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Workers for the Philadelphia-area transit system have voted to authorize a strike next month if an agreement isn’t reached on a new contract. The Transport Workers Union Local 234 said a voice vote at a Sunday morning meeting in south Philadelphia approved a motion to allow union leaders to call a strike […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Ed Sheeran has COVID, will do performances from home

British pop star Ed Sheeran said Sunday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and will do interviews and performances from his house while he self-isolates. Sheeran, 30, broke the news on social media days before his new studio album is due out. “Quick note to tell you that I’ve sadly tested positive for Covid, so […]
1 day ago
Migrants, mostly from Central America heading north, sleep on the ground in the Alvaro Obregon comm...
Associated Press

2,000 migrants continue walk through southern Mexico

HUEHUETAN, Mexico (AP) — A group of about 2,000 mainly Central American migrants continued their mass exodus from the southern Mexico city of Tapachula Sunday, reaching a town about 16 miles (26 kms) away. Migrants walked in the early morning, starting out before dawn, to avoid the burning heat. Mostly from Honduras and El Salvador, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Twitter suspends Indiana Rep. Jim Banks’ official account

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Twitter suspended an Indiana congressman’s official account after removing a post about a transgender woman over violation of the social media company’s rules. Twitter’s action Saturday came after Republican Rep. Jim Banks posted tweets last week regarding Dr. Rachel Levine becoming the first openly transgender four-star officer in the U.S. […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Guatemala sets curfew in province after protests

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — The Guatemalan government declared a month-long, dawn-to-dusk curfew Sunday and banned pubic gatherings in the northern coastal province of Izabal, following two days of protests against a mining project. Thousands of police confronted demonstrators angered by a nickel mine run by the Swiss-based Solway Investment Group. Protesters say they weren’t consulted […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Average US price of gas spikes 13 cents per gallon to $3.44

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline spiked 13 cents over the past two weeks, to $3.44 per gallon. The price at the pump is $1.22 higher than a year ago. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday the rise comes as the cost of crude oil surges. […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Indigenous Australian wants early pension due to short lives