It is individuals and families, not communities, who are the key agents of change in the move from passive welfare to self-reliance and economic freedom. Families and children are at the heart of our work.

The individual and family are too frequently subsumed under woolly notions of community change. However, communities are uplifted only when widespread individual and family change occurs.

‘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.

As always, our touchstone is the Cape York Agenda, and our efforts are unashamedly child-centred – improving the future for children is a clear moral priority. We are forging a new path that puts children, families and homes very much at the centre.

As a part of the Welfare Reform initiative Cape York Partnership established O-Hubs in the communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge. O-Hubs are a one-stop-shop for Opportunity Products designed to encourage and support individuals and families to manage and take responsibility for their finances, health and their children’s education.

Individual and Family Development under Cape York Welfare Reform

Under Cape York Welfare Reform we have worked to:

  • Improve the abilities of individuals and households to manage income and household budgets
  • Be engaged in children’s education and family health
  • Be better parents
  • Take pride in the family home

Under the Cape York Welfare Reform trial, our Opportunity Hub (O-Hub) staff focus on empowering individuals and families, so they can change their own and their children’s lives. We recognise we can’t make change happen for people; but we can support, inspire, and assist people to learn and grow so they can do it themselves. Through O-Hubs, people can access opportunity products such as MPower for financial literacy; Student Education Trust (SET) to assist parents to plan and save to support children’s education; and parenting support services.

Our O-Hub staff are seeing people take control of their lives and pursue bigger dreams and a better existence. It might be that the first step was taking control of money through MPower, or deciding to work out how to have a more satisfying relationship with children through our parenting programs.

The work of the Family Responsibilities Commission is also focused on restoring positive social norms and building individual and family capability. The Family Responsibilities Commission holds people to account when they breach key social norms, such as failing to get children to school, through conferencing led by local Commissioners. During conferencing, Commissioners talk with individuals and families about making changes in their lives, and refer people to support services to help them change their behaviour.