As part of the broader Welfare Reforms, the Commission has the lead role in these unique reforms aimed at restoring local authority and socially responsible standards of behaviour in Aurukun, Coen, Doomadgee, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge.
Local Commissioners are Elders or respected community members who encourage individuals appearing before the Commission to take the necessary steps to make lasting changes which will benefit their health, wellbeing, home and community life.
The Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and Local Commissioners meet regularly to conference clients and make referrals to community support services, or in certain circumstances, to Services Australia for income management.
The Commission’s activities support the broader welfare reforms implemented across Cape York Peninsula since 2008 and the ‘Our Future State: Advancing Queensland’s Priorities’ published by the Queensland Government:
The Commission delivers services to five communities, all of which are culturally unique and some of which are geographically remote. Each community is different, yet each can be characterised by the entrenched disadvantage of Indigenous community members. High rates of welfare dependency and multi-generational poverty have resulted in communities with individuals and their families who have complex needs.
In meeting this challenge, the Commission works with community-based service providers and partner agencies with statutory requirements under the FRC Act and the Department of Treaty, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Communities and the Arts (DTATSIPCA) as part of a linked service system to achieve individualised client outcomes.
In doing so the FRC complements several Queensland Government strategies and reforms such as:
- ‘Moving Ahead strategy’ – a whole-of-government strategy to improve Indigenous economic participation. The FRC assists Indigenous Queenslanders in remote communities to achieve the outcomes sought by facilitating their access to support services to overcome barriers to employment and training.
- ‘Our Way’ strategy and ‘Changing Tracks’ action plan – to build upon existing initiatives such as the FRC to ensure Indigenous children grow up in a safe and nurturing environment and address the over-representation of Indigenous children in Queensland’s child protection system.
- ‘Path to Treaty’ – the Path to Treaty is a shared journey between the Queensland Government, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people – a key reform with the ultimate goal of negotiating a treaty, or treaties. The principle of Indigenous local authority is a cornerstone of the FRC model and is a primary example of true self-determination by Aboriginal people as decision-makers, supporting their community members to overcome life challenges and become primarily responsible for their own wellbeing.
- ‘Local Thriving Communities’ reform – reframing and reforming how the Queensland Government works with Indigenous communities to deliver better outcomes through the establishment and continued operations of the FRC (with locally appointed decision-makers) after extensive consultation with each of the five welfare reform community areas.
- ‘Queensland Indigenous Procurement Policy’ – providing a whole-of-government framework to increase procurement with Indigenous businesses to grow and develop a diverse and sustainable Indigenous business sector and improve employment outcomes and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Over 70 percent of the FRC’s annual budget is allocated to community operations, with the chief purpose of facilitating conferences and hearings in remote Aboriginal communities and undertaking ongoing case management of clients in collaboration with local service providers. This expenditure directly benefits local and regional economies and is consistent with the objectives of both the Queensland Indigenous Procurement Policy and the Moving Ahead strategy.
- Maintaining legitimacy, and improving levels of engagement and personal responsibility without a clear authorising environment.
- Sustaining, renewing and broadening the pool of Local Commissioners.
- Supporting a stronger commitment from service provider partners for suitable, available and accountable services for clients.
- Strengthening resilience and wellbeing in staff and Local Commissioners to meet evolving challenges.
- Protecting our information assets.