Schedule 4 – Extending Cape York welfare reform trial
This Schedule amends the Social Security Administration Act to enable a
proposed 12 month extension of the Cape York welfare reform trial. The Trial
represents a partnership between the communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale,
and Mossman Gorge, the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland government and
the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership. A key element of the Trial
is the Families Responsibilities Commission (FRC), which was established under
Queensland Government legislation.
The FRC involves local Family Responsibility Commissioners who hold
conferences with community members, refer people to support services and, where
appropriate, arrange income management. Currently, a person can only be subject
to income management under the Trial after a decision by the FRC, made before 1
January 2012. This schedule extends this date to 1 January 2013 to enable
income management to continue in Cape York for a further 12 months.
Issues and impacts
The Queensland government is currently leading a process of consultation
with Cape York communities about extending the Trial. The Queensland government
legislation also needs to be changed in order for the Trial to be extended.
The extension of the Cape York welfare reform trial, at a cost of $16.1
million over two years from 2011-12 to 2012-13, will build on the gains already
made in education and social responsibility and allow further work on home ownership,
in partnership with the Queensland government, regional organisations and local
Indigenous communities. In addition, the measures in the Trial contribute to a
number of Closing the Gap Building Blocks, including Schooling, Healthy Homes
and Safe Communities.
The purpose of the FRC is ‘to support the restoration of socially
responsible standards of behaviour and to assist community members to resume
and maintain primary responsibility for the wellbeing of their community and
the individuals and families within their community’.
An independent evaluation of the FRC found indications of positive
community-level change around school attendance, alcohol and violence in the
two communities of Aurukun and Mossman Gorge. The evaluation also found the FRC
appeared to be contributing to restoring Indigenous authority by supporting
local and emerging leaders in Local Commissioner roles to make decisions and
model positive behaviour. It was noted in the evaluation that although the FRC
had been operating for 18 months only, it is strengthening its role within
The Committee notes the preliminary positive evaluations of the FRC and
recognises the value of community-based, holistic and cross-agency approaches
to overcoming Indigenous disadvantage.
The Committee is aware that the House of Representatives Standing
Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (ATSIA) received
evidence about the FRC during its inquiry into the high levels of involvement
of Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system. The ATSIA Committee also spoke
with the Family Responsibilities Commissioner David Glasgow and examined the
independent evaluation of the program in detail. The ATSIA Committee’s report
is expected to be tabled in June 2011.
The Committee recommends that Schedule 4 –Extending Cape
York welfare reform trial of this bill be passed with no amendments.