Welfare and the domestic economy of Indigenous families: Policy implications from a longitudinal survey

Author/editor: Daly, A, Henry, R, Smith, D
Year published: 2002
Issue no.: 239


This paper reports on a critical aspect of research findings from a three-year study conducted among Indigenous people living in and around the town of Kuranda in Northern Queensland, namely the role and impacts of welfare within the domestic economy of families. The research arose from a recognition of the difficulties faced in getting welfare services to Indigenous people, particularly youth and children. The focus of the survey has been on the relationship between the social security system, the domestic economies of families and their households, and Indigenous child-care arrangements. The survey documented sources of income, household composition and mobility and child-care patterns for approximately 30 households in Kuranda over a three-year period, using information from annual interviews with key reference people in each household.

The paper details the extent and nature of the reliance on welfare transfers among families and the households in which they live, highlights some of the main factors and patterns involved, and considers the apparent consequences for families and their children. The results raise issues for policy makers and local organisations considering changes to policy and service delivery to Indigenous communities in the current era of welfare reform. A set of key issues for policy reform are considered including: the consequences of the tight integration of welfare and other government transfers within the domestic economy of families and their households; the circumstances of extended families and their children under welfare; the position of young adults; the need for a flexible definition of participation and mutual obligation; and the current and potential role of the Community Development Employment Projects scheme.

ISBN: 0 7315 5614 3

ISSN:1036 1774

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