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Noel Pearson's reform plan « Previous | |Next »
January 4, 2008

Noel Pearson's reform plan in indigenous Cape York Peninsula rejects the existing artificial economy of unconditional welfare. It is paying for abusive lifestyles that compromise the protection of indigenous children and families.

The reform makes welfare payments conditional on four basic expectations: ensure your children attend school; fulfill your responsibilities to keep your children free from abuse and neglect; abide by the laws concerning violence, alcohol and drugs; abide by your public housing tenancy conditions. A family responsibilities commission comprising a magistrate and eminent representatives of the community is to be be created In Queensland to mandate these obligations.

Pearson argues that though these policies have a conservative flavour - a rebuilding of social norms - the other two building blocks of his agenda have a distinctly liberal and social-democratic flavour: realignment of incentives and increased government investment in capability development (that is in developing the capabilities of individuals).

This increased government investment in capability development builds on the work of Amartya Sen, and the argument is that poverty and disadvantage are to a large extent capability deprivation. The key is Indigenous capability development not development purely in terms of GNP growth with poverty seen purely as income-deprivation.

This capability development approach represents a significant policy shift, as the emphasis is not only on how human beings actually function but on them having the capability, which is a practical choice, to function in important ways if they so wish. The emphasis is based on well being and not utility and so it provides a framework for indigenous capability development.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:49 AM | | Comments (7)


The standards that would be an acceptable pass mark for these 4 things would be far below what would be acceptable in white society.
I think it is placing unreal expectations on the abilities of some.
It places too great an emphasis on the parents straightening up and walking right when realistically the children are just as out of control as the parents. Cutting the parents welfare will achieve nothing because all they will have to say is I cant control the kids. Oh OK heres your money.
Things always look good on paper but to implement them is a lot harder.

Noel Pearson's reform plan glosses over the disadvantage of previous generations that must effect today's young Aboriginals. Because the adults were abused and deprived of parental care when they were children, they are unable to fulfill the parenting role that will most benefit their own children. This applies right across Australian society, children of alcoholics, drug addicts, abusive parents, criminal parents and broken homes all need help. We have to break the chain of disadvantage by helping parents to become better parents and cutting off welfare is not going to do that. It isn't just having money in their pocket that causes people to become alcoholics or addicts it's because they have needs that are not being fulfilled, like self respect, hope for the future, opportunities to reach full potential. To be capable one has to have the means of being capable. Recognition of previous deprivation of the means of being capable is one of the continuing needs for our government to say "Sorry".

Thanks, Len.
The neoliberals always leave out the equity aspect in examning these sorts of social issues.

Perhaps it is time Australia introduces a welfare debit card that cant be used to buy grog, smokes, drugs or used for gambling.
Maybe it could be given to all people after they have been receiving benefits for over 6 months.

I think it is fair to apologize for slavery. I am surprised that it has taken this long.

We should introduce a "welfare debit card", to make welfare beneficiaries use welfare money in ways approvable to those of innately superior moral rectitude, like Les.
Better still why not Universalise the card for EVERYONE, since it is the uses of income rather than the source of income that is problematic ?
Particularly when it is the infantile spending habits (xmass splurge) and cold calculating lending habits(as with banks) of the so-called "good" people that are likely to precipitate the next recession, worsening the plight for already-despondent welfare beneficiaries.
Seriously, what a contemptible and arrogant suggestion Les is promoting.

Welfare is supposed to be a Hand up not a hand up.
I should of clarified that I would issue the card to unemployed lay abouts, no hoper's, drongos, shirkers, lazy drunk Abo's, druggies. Boy the list just goes on doesn't it. I will not be issuing the card to pensioners. It might be a good incentive for some to get off their fat arses and be productive.