This discussion paper presents the results from the second year (Stage Two) of the Kuranda community case study for the project on Indigenous families and the welfare system. Twenty-nine key reference people were interviewed about the factors influencing the delivery of welfare income by government to Indigenous families for the care of children.
Many of the key findings of the initial 1999 survey were confirmed in this follow-up study. Families and households remain highly dependent on income support via the CDEP scheme or benefits and pensions. The key role played by older women in the care of children was emphasised once again. The additional year of data enabled the documentation of the high level of mobility within the community. Between the 1999 and 2000 surveys, 84 individuals or 47 per cent of the 1999 survey participants had changed their place of residence. Some of these people moved as individuals and others as part of a family group. The results emphasise the importance of the extended family network in the care of children.
The results raise a number of important issues for policy and service delivery. The fact that child-care is family-based rather than household-based needs to be recognised in the delivery of services to children. Many children have multiple carers who are in need of financial support for the period in which they are responsible for a child. There therefore needs to be flexibility in the arrangements so that the relevant family payments are going to the person actually caring for a child. The paper emphasises the need for a holistic approach to delivering assistance to children. This includes the importance of increasing the opportunities for employment and training among Indigenous adults, of providing recreational and support facilities for young people, and of facilitating the interaction between Indigenous people and the welfare system.