Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Cape York Welfare Reform Trial to begin

The Cape York Welfare Reform Trial will commence today with the Family Responsibilities Commission starting its operations.

The Queensland Government yesterday announced the names of the 24 Local Commissioners who will oversee the operation of the Commission.

In December last year, the Australian Government announced that it would work closely with the Queensland Government and the Cape York Institute on the rollout of a comprehensive plan to tackle school attendance, drug and alcohol abuse, health, child safety and housing in four Cape York Indigenous communities – Aurukun, Hope Vale, Coen and Mossman Gorge.

The Family Responsibilities Commission, one of the key planks in the rollout of the Cape York Welfare Reform Trial, will have the power to refer people who aren’t meeting parental and community responsibilities to support services including drug and alcohol, mental health and relationship counselling, as well as recommend income management.

This could include circumstances where:

  • a child has three unexplained absences from school;
  • a person is subject to a child safety notification or report; or
  • is convicted of an offence; or
  • breaches a public housing tenancy agreement.

These measures aim to encourage stronger families and safety for children in remote Queensland Indigenous communities.

The Indigenous Commissioners will work with former Magistrate David Glasgow (now the Family Responsibilities Commissioner) to ensure parents are taking responsibility for sending their children to school, making sure they are clothed and fed and keeping them safe and healthy.

The start of the Welfare Trial is a positive step to restoring social norms and rebuilding the lives of families in remote Indigenous communities.

The Australian and Queensland Governments have committed more than $100 million to support the Welfare Reform Trial.