Families getting ahead in Cape York
The Cape York Family Responsibilities Commission’s first Annual Report has been tabled in Queensland Parliament today by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Desley Boyle.
‘The Family Responsibilities Commission is a key plank of the Cape York Welfare Reform Trial, linking parental responsibility with welfare to restore Indigenous authority and social norms in the trial communities of Aurukun, Hope Vale, Coen and Mossman Gorge,’ Ms Boyle said.
‘It’s not just about school attendance – but going to school is a key outcome. What a parent has to do is to make sure their kids are fed, that they have a good night’s sleep, and they get off to school in the morning ready to learn.’
The Annual Report highlighted that over the past 12 months, the Commission held 951 conferences, referred 616 people to support services, with nearly 280 attending programs such as anger management and alcohol treatment. There were also 89 orders for conditional income management.
The Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said that some people have also voluntarily asked to have their income managed to help them meet the needs of their families.
‘Income management is an important measure for ensuring welfare payments are spent in the interests of children and is a key plank of the Australian Government’s child-centred approach to family policy,’ Ms Macklin said.
The Ministers also paid special tribute to the hard work of the Local Commissioners, with the Annual Report highlighting their growing leadership within their communities.
The Local Commissioners set high standards of responsibility and concern for children and fellow community members.
‘These committed people are working with their communities to address a range of issues, including working with families to declare their homes ‘dry houses’,’ Ms Boyle said.
‘The Local Commissioners report that they are assisting families to get their children to school and at home at night.’
The Family Responsibilities Commission refers people who aren’t meeting parental and community responsibilities to drug and alcohol services, mental health services and relationship counselling. The Commission can also recommend conditional income management.
‘If children are not attending school or at risk of being harmed, the Commission is notified and parents or carers meet with the Local Commissioners to discuss what help is available,’ Ms Boyle said.
‘Parents who do not take up that help may have their welfare payments managed by Centrelink to ensure their income support is spent on family essentials such as food and clothing.’
The Ministers commended the Family Responsibilities Commissioner David Glasgow and his staff for their work.
The Annual Report provides statistical and financial information about the first year of the Commission’s operations, including:
- 2791 agency notifications were received, 1890 (68 per cent) of which were within the Commission’s jurisdiction;
- 24 Local Commissioners were appointed;
- 951 conferences were held in the four communities;
- 263 client agreements and 26 directions to attend community support services;
- 616 cases were referred to community service providers, including drug and alcohol and financial counselling;
- 314 clients were being case managed at 30 June 2009; and
- 89 conditional income management orders were made and a small number of voluntary income management arrangements were applied for.
The Cape York Welfare Reform trial is a partnership between the Queensland Government, Australian Government, the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership and the four communities of Coen, Aurukun, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge.