FRC – Our Legislation

The Families Responsibilities Commission is governed by the Family Responsibilities Commission Act 2008. This document is available for download from this site.

The Family Responsibilities Commission Act 2008 (the FRC Act) was passed in the Queensland Parliament with bipartisan support on 13 March 2008. The Commission commenced operating on 1 July 2008 and conferencing began on 12 August 2008 with the first sitting being held in Coen. As regulated by the FRC Act at that time the Commission was to cease operations on 1 January 2012. Each subsequent year until 2014, following Australian and State Government consultations and budget allocations, the Commission was granted 12-month extensions.

In introducing the Bill to Parliament, the former Premier Anna Bligh said: “This is a groundbreaking trial, unique in the world. It will be a significant departure from the policies that have been tried in the past. The bill establishes the Family Responsibilities Commission as the driving force in changing local social norms and behaviour. It will directly link improved care for children to welfare and other government payments.”

 

On 5 August 2014, the Family Responsibilities Commission Amendment Bill 2014 was introduced into Parliament. The Bill, which was passed by Parliament on 14 October 2014 and proclaimed on 28 November 2014, proposed the following amendments aimed at increasing efficiencies and expanding operations:

  • to omit the FRC Act’s sunset clause (section 152), which states that the FRC Act expires on 1 January 2015
  • to allow welfare reform communities to be added by regulation
  • to add new ‘justice triggers’ for notifications to the Commission if a community member is convicted in the District or Supreme Courts, or a child is convicted in a court
  • to amend the disqualification provisions for Local Commissioners and
  • to require the Family Responsibilities Board (FR Board) to meet every six months, rather than quarterly.

On 14 July 2015 the then Queensland State Treasurer Curtis Pitt released the 2015-16 State Budget wherein it was announced that the State Government would continue to revitalise frontline services with further financial support for Welfare Reform until 30 June 2019.

A further legislative development affecting Commission operations was the passing of the Family Responsibilities Commission Amendment Bill 2015 by Parliament with unanimous support on 1 December 2015. The Bill which received Royal Assent on 17 December proposed to increase the effectiveness of the FRC Act by:

  • including an additional domestic violence trigger in response to recommendations in the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland’s report, ‘Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic Violence in Queensland’
  • expanding the scope for delegation of the FRC Commissioner’s powers and responsibilities to the Local Commissioners
  • broadening the suitability requirements for the Registrar to more accurately reflect the operational elements of the role and
  • improving information availability in regard to the existing youth justice trigger.

A Bill to amend the Commonwealth Social Security Administration Act 1999 to extend the income management legislative mechanism utilised by the Commission from 30 June 2017 to 30 June 2019 in the welfare reform communities was passed by the Australian Parliament and received Royal Assent on 26 June 2017. The Australian Labour Party and Australian Greens supported the Bill on the basis that an independent evaluation of income management in the welfare reform communities be undertaken. The Australian Department of Social Services (DSS) has now commenced a Strategic Review of Income Management in Cape York. DSS officers attended the FRC’s Local Commissioner Development Week in May 2018 to seek first-hand accounts from Local Commissioners about the effectiveness of income management in Cape York.

Family Responsibilities Board

Part 12 of the FRC Act provides for the establishment of the Family Responsibilities Board (FR Board). Under section 117 of the FRC Act, the FR Board has a mandate to:

  • give advice and make recommendations to the Minister about the operation of the Commission
  • give advice and make recommendations to the Commissioner about the performance of the Commission’s functions; and
  • consider the reports submitted by the Commission.

Section 118 of the FRC Act provides for the membership of the FR Board which is endorsed by the Queensland Governor in Council. The FR Board consists of one person nominated by the Minister (chairperson of the FR Board), one person nominated by the Australian Government and one person nominated by the Cape York Institute. Board members are appointed by the Governor in Council for the term stated in the member’s instrument of appointment.

Section 123 of the FRC Act states that the FR Board must meet every six months. The meeting may be held by using any technology available which will allow for efficient and effective communication, however, the Board members must meet in person at least once a year. A quorum for the Board is comprised of two members.

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