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Pearson's Cape York reforms « Previous | |Next »
July 17, 2007

Last night I watched The Cape Experiment, a look at Noel Person's welfare reform approach to the rivers of grog and welfare dependency, on the ABC's Four Corners. program. The program graphically showed the effects of these problems in Cape York and then explored Pearson's approach.

Pearson argues that his governance approach provides a pathway to aboriginal futures:

the fundamental structural and behavioural reforms we propose to implement in Cape York Peninsula will turn around the situation in our communities in a matter of years. Our remote communities can be transformed into strong home bases for Cape York people, safe and peaceful places where children receive a primary education that does not disadvantage them, and large numbers of adults learn to re-engage with the real economy instead of depending on passive welfare.

Pearson holds that welfare payments – sit-down money - have encouraged irresponsibility, facilitated a hand out mentality in indigenous communities and produced a passive people. His proposed reform is mutual responsibility and if people don’t take responsibility then his organization is able to step in. So indigenous people can lose their freedom if they don’t abide by the conditions of mutual responsibility.

Pearson's the pilot program--Cape York Partnerships-- involved teams working in the towns of Aurukun, Coen, Mossman Gorge and Hopevale to engage them on welfare reform by building trust over time, and to gently shape the conduct of the people in these towns so they would articulating the welfare reform principles as though they were their own. According to Philip White, who was a member of the team in Arukun, this would involve:

asking people living with 20 family members in one broken-down house about the provision of housing, asking people who had never had a real job about what sort of training services might help, asking parents with illiterate 12-year-old children about schooling - while reminding them of the role sit-down money played in producing such mealy outcomes.Similar research was undertaken in the towns of Coen, Mossman Gorge and Hopevale. The plan was to eventually build this feedback into policy before sending it to Brough. We were told this process would take at least a year and more likely two. But this real research conducted with real people is barely cited in the From Hand Out to Hand Up report.

The 4 Corners showed indifference and resistance to the Pearson/Brough plan amongst councillors in Hopevale, strong support amongst councillers in Mossman Creek. The teams were rejected twice in Aurukun. Why this happened was never explored. No indigenous criticism of Pearson's plan were aired, and there were no alternative indigenous voices.

Pearson's welfare programme has becomethe blueprint for the federal Government's intervention into the Northern territory.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:46 AM | | Comments (7)


I thought it was an OK report. I would of like to of seen a bit more of the discussion between Pearson and the land holders that were opposed.
My comment about no tomatoes or crops shows that the community isn't thinking past the next Wednesday but that was obvious.
To be honest I thought they were a lot further along the journey of Pearson's plan up there.
From my experience living in remote areas the conditions and problems are at least twice that level in the N.T of what we saw last night.

But its a positive air and if ever there was a bloke truly committed its Pearson.

A pox on all micromanagement obsessive control freaks, from Turnbull, Coonan, Bruff and Andrews, through uncle Tom Pearson and his "Australian" brother Christopher; to the sub- species that infests and has infected the labor "right".

As a “CONSTITUTIONALIST” I oppose the conduct as being taken as being unconstitutional. As a former single parent having a child sexual abused I for one knows better what is going on then many and still opposes the plan as I view it is not the way to go.

See also my blog to learn what it is really alike in the circumstances.

While Noel Pearson might perhaps enjoy getting more and more power over others, I for one do not belief it will resolve the problems in the long term.
What was noticeable was the “volunteer program” (as in fact is done also by many credit associations for people in Victoria regardless of race) where people maintain control but can give permission for others to assist them.

As one of my articles also set out extensively, is that if the Federal Government was permitted (again it is unconstitutional) to dictate how people spend their monies, then soon or later they will tell old age pensioners where they can do their shopping, what newspaper they are permitted to purchase, etc.
You think this is never going to happen? Well, I did forecast the unconstitutional conduct the Federal Government now is implementing in my books in the INSPECTOR-RIKATI® series already.

If we desire to help anyone, not just Aboriginals, affected by grog, sexual abuse, etc, then lets at least do this within constitutional powers.
As my blog also points out, if the Federal government takes the land of Aboriginals in the NT then likewise it can take the land of others regardless if they are doctors/lawyers/judges/politicians as it would then apply to all persons of the Aboriginal race. No doubt this was never properly understood! See my blog.


You are completely missing the point of this.
I think you may be too caught up in your self promotion to be able to see that this is an "Intervention"

I see that Mal Brough has announced that taxpayers would spend $48 million to rewrite welfare rules, teach literacy and create jobs in four indigenous communities in Cape York.

The contribution, designed to propel about 2500 residents out of a welfare poverty trap over a four-year trial, endorses the blueprint of Cape York indigenous leader Noel Pearson, who has campaigned against "passive welfare".

Yes, I suspect that it will go a little further than that and a major part of it will be out sourced. Thats what is needed. Let business take care of it. Link profits to results. I am sure Mrs Crudd has been in Kevins ear about it.

Dennis Glover says that Noel Pearson rates physical safety ahead of abstract human rights and he is wary of progressive ideologies:

faced by the choice between children and rights, he correctly chose children. And he isn't afraid to align himself with the Right if that's what it takes.

Glover says that Pearson remains a man of the Left. Pearson is a rare commodity: a moralist who deserves to be taken seriously by practical people. Like Camus, he is a singular intellectual.

Pearson's case for supporting the commonwealth's intervention into indigenous communities is extraordinary for its forceful assertion of a simple proposition: that the institutions, programs and ideas cherished by affluent progressives must come second to saving frightened poor children from fear, humiliation and abuse. It's an argument searing in its moral clarity and one addressed mainly to the Left, for whom Pearson intentionally sets higher standards than for the Right.
Sadly, Pearson's success in influencing change contrasts with the continuing ineffectiveness of much of the mainstream Australian Left. There's little sense on the Left these days of the sort of moral crusade and singularity of purpose that Pearson brings to the fight.

Glover adds that:

In my view, the Left would do best to regard Pearson not as an enemy but as a change agent who exemplifies what the Left needs to do to regain the ascendancy: combine moral clarity with fresh ideas.

He adds that While we all hope politics is kept out of this issue, it is naive in the extreme to think electoral calculation will not influence decision making. What no one has yet pointed out is that the biggest threat to maintaining a consensus comes not from Labor but from the Coalition. There is no electoral gain for Labor in opposing the saving of children from abuse, but there is potential gain for the Coalition in painting Labor as obstructionist.