What is the Family Responsibilities Commission?
The Family Responsibilities Commission (FRC) is a key element of Cape York Welfare Reform. The FRC is an independent statutory body consisting of a legally qualified Commissioner and six Local Commissioners for each of the four Cape York Welfare Reform communities (Aurukun, Coen, Mossman Gorge and Hope Vale) which are taking part in the four-year welfare reform trials.
The FRC will help rebuild social norms in the four Cape York Welfare Reform communities by:
- appointing respected Elders to positions of responsibility, thereby rebuilding local authority
- articulating the original Indigenous community values of respect and responsibility
- sending a consistent message about the expected behaviour of individuals, families and households
- determining appropriate actions to address the dysfunctional behaviour of people in the community
- where appropriate, referring individuals to community support services to assist them to address their behaviours
- where appropriate, directing the person's income to be managed by Centrelink to pay for the priority needs of their family.
The FRC is supported by staff in the central Registry Office in Cairns and Local Coordinators in each of the four Cape York Welfare Reform communities.
Who can be referred to the FRC?
From 1 July 2008 any person who is a welfare recipient living in one of the four Cape York Welfare Reform communities and has committed a 'trigger' event, can be referred to the FRC.
A person is a welfare recipient if the person, or their partner, receives certain welfare payments including Newstart, Parenting Payments, Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY, age and service pensions or carer payments. A person is also a welfare recipient if he/she is participating in CDEP.
A person will be considered to be living in a Cape York Welfare Reform community if, after 1 July 2008:
- the person's usual place of residence is in one of the four communities, or
- the person has lived in one of the four communities for at least three months.
When would a person be referred to the FRC?
The FRC will be notified about a person if:
- the person's child is absent from school three times in a school term, without reasonable excuse
- the person has a child of school age who is not enrolled in school without lawful excuse
- the person is the subject of a child safety report
- the person is convicted of an offence in the Magistrates Court, or
- the person breaches his or her tenancy agreement - for example, by using the premises for an illegal purpose, causing a nuisance or failing to remedy rent arrears.
How will the FRC be notified about a person?
The FRC may be notified by one of the following agencies or organisations when one of the events mentioned above occurs:
- the Department of Child Safety
- public housing landlords, or
- the Magistrates Court.
What will the FRC do?
When the FRC receives a referral it may choose to meet with the person at a conference to discuss the matters that have lead to the notification. Conferences will be held in an informal setting to ensure the best outcome.
The person will be encouraged to come to an agreement with the FRC about appropriate responses to the issues that have led to their referral. If the person is unwilling to agree on a course of action, the FRC may order a certain course of action to address the person's issues. At the conference, the FRC may:
- decide that no action is necessary
- issue a warning to the person about the behaviour that is expected of them
- suggest or require the person's attendance at community support services
- recommend the person get financial advice from Family Income Management, or
- require that the person's income be managed by Centrelink for a period of between three to 12 months.