Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Ministers praise strong action by Family Responsibilities Commission

Joint Media Release with:

  • Desley Boyle MP, Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Desley Boyle has today tabled the Family Responsibilities Commission’s 9th quarterly report in the Queensland Parliament.

The Commission is a key plank of the Cape York Welfare Reform trial, aimed at increasing parental responsibility and restoring social norms in the trial communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge.

“I congratulate the Commonwealth on their commitment to the Wellbeing Centres,” Ms Boyle said.

“The Family Responsibilities Commission is a framework around which people and communities can rebuild.

“The Wellbeing Centres are a major part of this framework.

“They deliver the services and counselling that can cement positive changes.

“This includes drug and alcohol services, mental health, domestic violence and general counselling.

“The centres are also becoming community hubs where Men’s, Women’s, Elders’ and Youth groups can all hold their meetings.”

Ms Boyle said the report highlighted the Commission’s ability to respond quickly and appropriately issues in the community.

“This report identified a significant dip in Term 3 school attendance in Aurukun. At the time the Commission took concerted action in partnership with Education Queensland and was able to step up community conferencing resulting in a rebound of around 10% in Term 4 school attendance,” she said.

“Every child deserves a flying start to learning and life but this cannot happen if they are not attending school.

“Education opens doors, creates opportunities and puts children in the best position to take advantage of life’s opportunities.”

The Federal Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said the Commission had found income management was an effective tool to help stabilise the household budget – ensuring bills are paid and children are fed.

As at 17 September 2010, 173 people were on income management. Of these 19 people were voluntarily having their welfare payments managed.

Over the past 12 months, the Commission has held 336 conferences with community members in the four communities to encourage increased personal responsibility, including getting children to school and being a good tenant. They also referred 49 people to support services and entered into 25 Family Responsibility Agreements to ensure people take greater personal responsibility and attend support services.

The Cape York Welfare Reform trial is a partnership between the Queensland and Australian Governments, the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership and the four communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge.

The reports are available online at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services website