Welfare Reform

The welfare system has created welfare passivity in remote Indigenous communities.  In 2008 Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge signed up to the Cape York Welfare Reform initiative to end passive welfare, restore communal and family harmony, and create more vibrant and prosperous communities.


Our-Theory-of-Change-wordsOur theory of change explains how the corrosive passive welfare mentality can be transformed. Indigenous people on passive welfare see themselves as victimised or incapable, and in need of assistance without reciprocation. This mentality is also shared by bureaucracy that sees people on the ground as incapable. Instead of simply providing resources and facilitating decision-making and action at the ground level, it hoards power and responsibility.

‘Push’ and ‘pull’ factors are needed to get individuals and families to change from passivity, dependence and dysfunction; to responsibility, self-reliance and functioning. Push factors might include increasing the conditionality of welfare payments; pull factors must include providing opportunities and investment in capability-building.

OHubFamilyIn 2008 Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge signed up to the Cape York Welfare Reform project in a partnership with the Cape York Institute and Federal and Queensland Governments. The aim is to end passive welfare, restore communal and family harmony, and create more vibrant and prosperous communities. The trial focused on achieving gains in social responsibility, education, economic opportunity and home ownership.

Conditional welfare has been an important part of Cape York Welfare Reform. Obligations are attached to payments for all welfare recipients in Welfare Reform communities. Adults are to make sure kids attend school, and are kept safe from harm and neglect; and that they themselves do not commit drug, alcohol or family violence offences; and abide by tenancy agreements.

Cape York Welfare Reform has also focussed on the restoration of local Indigenous authority, through the Family Responsibilities Commission, and invested in capability building and opportunities; including through O-Hubs.

The landmark report, Hand Out to Hand Up, gave birth to Welfare Reform.