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06-25-07, 04:32 AM #1
Radical overhaul of Indigenous welfare
Posted Tue Jun 19, 2007 4:12pm AEST
Mr Pearson says passive welfare has all but destroyed his community. (7.30 Report) Indigenous leader Noel Pearson has urged the Federal Government to consider a radical overhaul of Indigenous welfare. Mr Pearson, the director of the Cape York Land Council, has handed a report to the Government calling for welfare payments to Aboriginal people to be conditional on behaviour. Welfare recipients would be stripped of payments under the plan if their children missed school or were neglected, and if their housing was not treated with respect. Mr Pearson says passive welfare has all but destroyed his community.
"It breaks down the will to take responsibility for one's own livelihood, to chase better opportunities and better income for your children," he said.
"It takes the vigour and vitality out of individual striving.
"It takes the hunger out of a search for a better life.
"It also is ripe for being co-opted by addictions."
He says mutual responsibility is vital to a healthy community.
"I come from a community where I've seen the effect of welfare take a strong and resilient and responsible people from a position where, had the doors of opportunity been open, I believe our people would've been sailing," he said.
Acting federal Race Discrimination Commissioner Tom Calma has raised concerns about a proposal to make welfare payments for Indigenous Australians conditional on their behaviour. A report by the Cape York Institute has recommended a trial in north Queensland communities. Under the proposal, payments to Aboriginal people would be cut in instances of substance abuse, not sending children to school or disrespecting housing. Commissioner Calma says that could be seen as racial discrimination.
"I must caution that any program that is implemented that is only directed towards one sector of our society, and it's based on racial grounds, will potentially breach the racial discrimination act," he said.
"What we have to do is look at measures that are going to, if we have to go down this path ... address all communities."
On ABC TV's The 7.30 Report program on Tuesday night, the director of the Cape York Land Council, Noel Pearson, said he did not expect much support from the Indigenous community for his plan to overhaul Indigenous welfare. But Mr Pearson says drug rehabilitation programs are needed to help stop the damaging affects of alcohol in Indigenous communities.
"We need to make sure that those programs are available to direct people in to," he said.
"The whole aim here is not to condemn people into the problems, the whole aim is to support them to get back on their feet again and to take charge of their own families again."
Earlier, federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough said the report by the Cape York Institute reflected his criticism of the current system. Mr Brough says a system similar to the one mentioned in the report has started on a voluntary basis in at least one Indigenous community. But he says the states and territories need to give it their support.
06-25-07, 04:57 AM #2
The world is full of parrallels, isn't it?
"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly. - Lovelace
The opinions expressed by this poster are wholly his own, and should never be construed to even remotely be in representation of his employer, its agencies or assigns. In fact, they probably fail to be in alignment with the opinions of any rational human being.
06-25-07, 05:09 AM #3
The Federal Govt has asked each state to supply 6-10 police officers for a task unit to hit these communites and charge those that need to be charged.
By the way, Noel Pearson is an Aboriginal.
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