Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Supporting families in the APY Lands

Joint Media Release with:

  • Paul Caica MP
    Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation
    Michael O'Brien MP
    Minister for Finance, Minister for the Public Sector

The Australian Government and South Australian Governments are providing improved support for families, mental health and financial management services as part of a $2.82 million investment in the safety, health and wellbeing of families and children in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunyatjatjara (APY) Lands.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today visited the APY Lands with South Australian Minister Michael O’Brien, to meet the community and reaffirm both governments’ commitment to improving the lives of people in the region.

Ms Macklin said the Australian Government will invest $400,000 for new Intensive Family Support Services, to improve the wellbeing of children in the APY Lands.

“This will provide for additional social workers and Aboriginal family support workers, who will work with parents in their own homes to build their skills and knowledge about how to best meet the needs of their children including in health, nutrition, and education,” Ms Macklin said.

“We will work closely with the local community through the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council to determine where the needs are highest for these services.”

The South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Paul Caica, welcomed this contribution, and an additional up to $100,000 to be provided by the Commonwealth to build on the South Australian Government’s mobile protection team initiative on the APY Lands.

“We know how important these services, together with the six school based workers and two child protection workers we now have in place on the APY Lands, are in ensuring we are protecting vulnerable children,” Mr Caica said.

The Government will also provide up to $500,000 a year for a new Family Mental Health Support Service in the APY Lands.

“This service will help us build capacity to respond early to the needs of children and young people at risk of mental illness, working with families and community organisations to offer intensive practical assistance and early intervention,” Ms Macklin said.

“It will be largely focussed on Ernabella, Fregon, Kenmore Park and surrounding communities and will develop close links with schools to identify children who may require intensive support.”

The Australian Government is also investing $600,000 to establish a cross-border family violence information and intelligence initiative based in Alice Springs. This will be run by police and will facilitate and encourage information sharing between agencies and service providers to tackle domestic violence.

Ms Macklin said governments would also be working to improve financial literacy and money management skills for people living on the APY Lands.

“We are providing $1.22 million over three years for a Financial Wellbeing Service in Amata and Mimili, to help people build their money management skills, provide one-on-one support including financial counselling, and financial literacy education.

“Late last year, I said I would look at whether income management would be an appropriate tool for people in the APY Lands to help families budget and make sure that their welfare payments are spent on life’s essentials such as food, clothing and housing.

“At that time, the Government also provided extra support to help people in the APY Lands receive their income support payments weekly rather than fortnightly, and to use Centrepay to help them budget.

“I also made it clear that for income management to be a useful tool, the appropriate child protection and other services needed to be in place on the Lands. I am pleased that through the work of the South Australian Government and the additional investments we are announcing today those vital services will be in place.

“Discussions we have held with the NPY Women’s Council and the APY Executive have shown us that people are interested in continuing to progress work assessing whether income management would be a useful tool for people in the APY Lands.

“That’s why I am announcing that we will begin formal consultations with APY Lands communities about whether income management should be introduced and if so, what model would be most appropriate.

“Initially, these discussions will take place as part of the consultations we will be undertaking from next week (May 7) about the Regional Partnership Agreement, which will help identify priority needs and plans to deliver coordinated services to the APY Lands.”

Mr Caica said comprehensive consultation and engagement with Anangu would be a critical factor in ensuring positive outcomes are derived from these initiatives.

The initiatives will build on the work already being done to improve the lives of people in the APY Lands.

This includes:

  • Three new Family Wellbeing Centres due to be completed by the end of this year.
  • Additional housing delivered through the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing. By the end of June, we will have delivered 95 new houses and 111 refurbishments in the APY Lands. In 2012-2014 seven communities will receive around a further 37 new houses and 30 refurbishments.
  • Additional police, police stations and staff accommodation. There are now 19 police officers across the Lands with another five based at Marla and three at Umuwa.
  • New stores leases, which strengthen requirements on store operators to stock fresh and healthy food; limit the holding of key cards and pin numbers, ban sales of cars, and move to selling Opal fuel.

“All children deserve a safe, happy and healthy childhood, and all families deserve the chance to live in safe and healthy communities,” Ms Macklin said.

“We know that a lot of work remains to be done in the APY Lands, but these commitments will help us to work with communities in the APY Lands to build a better future.”