Cheryl Cannon retired from teaching to build a family home.

“I did a budgeting course through MPower, found out that I was spending on silly things. I didn’t need to go to Gilled and Gutted every weekend. Now I drive past and no big deal.

“It took six months for me to save the deposit.

“I wanted to show my community and family that you have to care for your home that you don’t have to run to council for everything.

“I’ve planted out the front yard with flowers and bush tress, and the backyard with edible varieties, Tahitian limes, lemon, mandarins and bananas.

“The house is a joint family venture—my youngest daughter will inherit it.

“We’ve been busy done landscaping. I was mowing on a right angle, so my son made it level for me with rocks. Every time I’m in Cairns I look around for a new plant.”

But retirement wasn’t enough for Cheryl. She still wanted to help her community.

Now, she’s a Family Responsibilities Commissioner and has her first sitting, in October, under her belt. Rather than being like a courtroom, she was surprised it was such a ‘two-way learning’ experience.

“All the aggro is gone, and people are willing to accept consequences and talk through problems and be helped through issues.”

She says income management is the only way to get some people to take responsibility.

“Those who are income managed always have food on the table, and bills paid.

“When we were growing up we had elders that would support our families. That respect for elders is returning. As FRC Commissioners, we are there for families to talk to and help.”