Accounting in the service of genocide: stolen wages in Australia 1897-1972

Frances Miley, Andrew READ

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


This research considers accounting in the context of wages earned by indigenous Australians
between 1897 and 1972. Up to 75 per cent of these wages were compulsorily placed into
government trust accounts . The remainder of the wages money was to be paid in cash to indigenous
workers. "Stolen wages" refers to the systemic failure to pay this money to indigenous Australians .
We examine the failure of accounting practices and audit processes in the management of indigenous
wages held in trust and to be paid in cash. These failures led to widespread financial
mismanagement and fraud of indigenous wage money, created severe economic hardship among the
indigenous population and contributed to genocidal outcomes consistent with the definition of
genocide. Cultural hegemony provides a framework for understanding that accounting failure is not
accidental when it contributes directly to the oppression of indigenous Australians. Previous
accounting research has considered the use of accounting as a control mechanism to support
genocidal policies. Our research suggests that the culpability of the accounting for supporting
genocidal outcomes should be broadened to include cases of deliberate failure to implement
accounting control mechanisms and audit processes required by law and government policy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSeventh Accounting History International Conference Refereed Conf Proceedings: innovating from the past
EditorsJuan Banos
Place of PublicationSeville, Spain
PublisherSeventh Accounting History International Conference
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventSeventh Accounting History International Conference - Seville, Spain
Duration: 25 Sept 201327 Sept 2013


ConferenceSeventh Accounting History International Conference


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