Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Working together for people of the APY Lands

Joint Media Release with:

  • Grace Portolesi MP, South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation

The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin and the South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Grace Portolesi today met to discuss work underway to improve the health, safety and well-being of people living in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

The priority for both Governments is ensuring that children are growing up in an environment that is safe and healthy.

Today Ministers agreed important further actions to deliver on commitments announced earlier this month to help support families and create safe communities for children.

Ministers agreed:

Family and wellbeing centres

  • A new Family and Wellbeing Centre will be constructed in Mimili by the end of 2012.
  • Upgrades to the existing facilities will enable a centre to be operational in Amata by mid 2012.
  • Discussions are underway regarding a further Centre in Pukatja.
  • These centres will provide a hub for services to better support families, women and children in the APY Lands.

Ensuring stores are functioning properly

The South Australian Government is working with the APY Executive to address concerns about the operation of the stores in Mintabie. It is proposed that the new Mintabie lease contain provisions to address these matters, including:

  • Regulating the practice of book up to ensure no unscrupulous practices are occurring. This will complement the ongoing South Australian Police investigation.
  • Restricting the sale and consumption of alcohol.
  • Requiring OPAL fuel to be sold in Mintabie ensuring it is available across the Lands.

This work complements the broader work that the State and Federal Governments are doing with APY Executive to improve store management in on the APY Lands. The APY Executive are also currently investigating a suite of licences, regulations and leasing arrangements for stores to ensure food security for the Lands.

Income management and budgeting

Centrelink teams and money management teams have been working in the APY lands over past weeks to help ensure families receiving welfare payments have access to tools to help them budget properly.

So far more than 30 families have signed up to receive their Centrelink payments weekly rather than fortnightly and Centrelink has assisted 170 people living on the APY Lands in relation to their existing Centrepay arrangements, which ensure people can have regular amounts paid to stores via Centrepay.

Centrelink are rolling out new Centrepay contracts to stores, which will limit the items that Centrepay deductions can be used to pay for, and excludes items such as alcohol and tobacco.

The Ministers also discussed the potential for a broader income management scheme in the APY lands.

Income management is in place in other places in Australia and is helping families manage their budgets. Evaluation of existing approaches to income management is underway.

Ministers today agreed to closely monitor the effect of the work already underway in the APY Lands to help people gain immediate access to tools to better budget and control their money.

The South Australian Government has agreed to ensure that the foundations are in place for a broader scheme of income management if monitoring and work underway with the community shows that this is needed.

These foundations will ensure that child protection and family support services are in place to follow up and address reports of child malnutrition and neglect and fulfil the recommendations of the Mullighan Inquiry.

Income management needs to be underpinned by family support programs and child protection services to refer families to income management if needed.

Future Directions

The Ministers also discussed long-term plans for improving governance and service delivery on the Lands. The State and Federal Government have agreed to negotiate with the APY Executive to develop a Regional Partnership Agreement for the APY Lands.

This agreement will establish a uniform government investment strategy across the region, to provide a coordinated response to priorities identified for the Lands and eliminate duplication or gaps.