For the first time ever, a Federal Court judgment has allowed for a ‘payment for financial counselling’ to support people receiving funds from a court ordered case settlement fund. The money is going to ICAN who will account for it.
This sets a precedent for financial counselling agencies to be explicitly recognised in court ordered compensation or settlement schemes.
In the Palm Island class action case (Wotton v State of Queensland  FCA 915), the court ordered that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Palm Island were to be financially compensated together with an apology by the Queensland government for the Government’s breach of the Racial Discrimination Act. The case was about racial profiling following riots after the death in police custody of Mr Cameron Doomadjee in 2004. On the day the autotopsy was read out there were riots in the town. The police response to the riots were considered by the court to be racist.
The class action group will receive about $26.5 million. Eligible and registered group members will receive notices about the settlement and how to accept their own payment.
In an earlier, ABC article, class action lawyer Stewart Levitt, said “ … the other thing that does concern me is that people will be receiving substantial sums of money for the first time in their life. I just hope carpet baggers don’t prey on them and lighten their pockets rapidly … I’d like to see [the Australian Securities and Investment Commission] keeping a close watch to see what happens to the Indigenous [people] to ensure they’re not preyed upon by people with poor motives in respect to the sudden floods of funds that they’re going to be receiving in Palm Island, where there’s not even a bank branch.” (Palm Island riots: Queensland Government to pay $30m in class action case)
The story may continue. Look out for those with poor motives.