Cape York Welfare Reform Trial Extended
23 August 2011 at 1:11 pm
The Cape York Welfare Reform trial – which includes controversial measures such as welfare quarantining – has been extended until the end of 2012 by the Federal and Queensland Governments.
The welfare reform trial amongst four communities in the Cape York was due to be wound up at the end of 2011, however the Gillard and Bligh Governments have agreed to extend the trial for another year.
A report tabled in Queensland Parliament by the Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Curtis Pitt says the trial has had shown success in closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students
According to the report, the Family Responsibilities Commission received 677 notifications from government agencies within its jurisdiction between January and March 2011, down from 734 the previous quarter.
Government agencies refer people to the FRC if their children are not attending school, there is a child safety issue, a breach of a tenancy agreement or they have been convicted of an offence in the Magistrates Court.
The report also revelealed that across the four trial communities school attendance notifications dropped from 339 last quarter to 332 this quarter.
Curtis Pitt says since the welfare reform trial began in January 2008, it has acheived encouraging results in promoting positive changes in the Far North Queensland trial communities of Arukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge.
And while the figures dont reveal a major drop, Pitt says it is still a pleasing result because it demonstrates that fewer students had unexplained absences from school.
Pitt said another particular point of interest was that Magistrates Court notifications decreased from 345 last quarter to 291 this quarter.
He says the decision to extend the trial follows consultation with key partners in the reform program, the Australian Government and the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, coupled with the Family Responsibilities Commission, elders, local councils and community representatives.
The Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said the Family Responsibilities Commission (FRC) quarterly report showed that the trial is having some positive results.
Macklin says people are finding income management a useful tool and are requesting the Family Responsibilities Commission to either continue or extend their time on income management, as it helps them stabilise their household budget and ensure bills are paid and children are fed.
She says the Family Responsibilities Commission aims to move people from passive welfare dependence to engagement in the real economy, increase parental responsibility, restore local authority and build stronger, more resilient communities.
In May this year the Gillard Government promised a further $16.1 million in funding to extend and expand the trial, after consultation had taken place with Cape York communities.