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Featured Image Credit: NITV/YouTube. Nichollas Harrison (Creative Commons)
Acclaimed actor and Indigenous activist, Uncle Jack Charles, has labeled the Stolen Generations Advisory Committee ‘racist’ after being asked to prove his Aboriginality to receive the Stolen Generations Reparations Package.
Despite receiving the first instalment for payment, the Wiradjuri, Boon Warrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Woiwurrung, and Yorta Yorta man said he was surprised to receive a phone call to provide proof of his heritage, according to ABC News.
Uncle Jack was set to receive his second payment of $80,000 (USD $54,448 or £45,022) under the Victorian government’s redress scheme for victims of the Stolen Generation before 1977.
However, a staff member from the committee demanded proof of heritage, citing that many had been ripping off the scheme.
He told ABC Radio Melbourne's Drive program: "But the point of fact here is that it's me they're talking to — a well-known Aboriginal person.
"It strikes me that they can't differentiate between people [who] are taking advantage of the system and the likes of myself."
Uncle Jack has appeared in numerous Australian films, was the first Indigenous recipient of a Lifetime Achievement award from Victoria's Green Room Awards, and, most recently, was honoured with NAIDOC Male Elder of the year.
"It's been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am Aboriginal," Uncle Jack said.
The 78-year-old also said that the experience has ‘re-traumatised’ him.
In 2012, Uncles Jack also had to prove his Aboriginality to the arts funding body, the Australia Council, to receive a grant to write his book.
He added: "It's too difficult to be an Aboriginal.
"Have a look at what I'm struggling through right now, hitting 79 in September and I'm still being bedevilled and perplexed."
While the government’s website doesn’t state that applicants must provide proof of heritage or removal, it outlined the department would later confirm if applicants were falsifying their records.
Since the package was unveiled earlier this year, many have criticised the Victorian government for taking so long to offer compensation for survivors.
Assembly co-chair and Bangerang and Wiradjuri elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, who was removed from her family in Dimboola, western Victoria, at age 10, told SBS: “Victoria still has a long way to go with our journey and our healing process.”
"Now they come up 25 years later and say that we’re gonna compensate survivors… and like I said… it's a little too late for many because many have passed.”