Glen Elmes
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Glen Elmes

March 27, 2013

The State Government has flagged a possible extension of the Family Responsibilities Commission – which administers the quarantining of welfare payments – to cover indigenous communities throughout Queensland.

A visit by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Glen Elmes yesterday to Murgon and Cherbourg coincided with the release of the evaluation report into the Cape York Welfare Reform Trial .

Mr Elmes said today the Cape York trial in its current form cannot continue and would end on December 31.

However, he said there had been some positive outcomes and these should be encouraged in all Indigenous communities.

“Yesterday I visited Cherbourg and Murgon where there is no welfare reform trial but these communities need similar assistance,” he said.

Mr Elmes said a positive outcome of the Cape York trial was the work of the Family Responsibilities Commission (FRC).

“With the support of the local communities, it helped create sustainable employment opportunities, increased parental responsibility and restored social norms,” he said.

“The Newman Government is looking at finding practical support mechanisms for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve the lives of individuals and families and the FRC is one area that we could look at modifying and adopting throughout Queensland.”

A spokesman for the Minister told this morning it was “a bit premature” to speculate on exactly what could be implemented across the State.

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The FRC, which operated in conjunction with the now-scrapped Cape York Welfare Reform Trial, was begun in 2008 in co-operation between four Cape York Aboriginal communities, the State and Federal governments and the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership (the independent body headed by Noel Pearson).

FRC local commissioners were empowered to issue “income management notices” upon particular individuals so that a percentage of income support and family payments were spent on priority goods and services such as food, housing, clothing, education and health care.

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UPDATE March 28, 2013:  The State Government has decided to extend the Cape York Welfare Reform Trial, Premier Campbell Newman said today.

Mr Newman said the Cabinet Budget Review Committee (CBRC) met this afternoon and decided that funding of $5.65 million would be continued to extend the trial.

The CBRC, chaired by Mr Newman, also comprises Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, Treasurer Tim Nicholls and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie.

Mr Newman said the CBRC was keen to see efficiencies in the expenditure of the funding, and that consideration be given to rolling out the trial to additional indigenous communities in Cape York and Torres Strait.

“We will continue to work with all indigenous communities to improve social outcomes and to ensure indigenous people are given every opportunity to access good education, training and employment,” he said.

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