The Cape York Welfare Reform Trial – Continuing Acts of Paternalism

  • Fiona Campbell James Cook University


The Queensland Government has managed Aboriginal peoples’ property since at least 1897. Today, in four predominantly Aboriginal communities in Cape York and Doomadgee in the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Family Responsibilities Commission can direct Centrelink to manage up to 90 per cent of a person’s social security payment if they fail to meet one of four ‘social responsibilities’. If social security payments could be found to be property, as occurs in European countries, income management of Aboriginal people’s social security payments arguably breaches the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act 1975 (Cth) which require equality for Aboriginal peoples in exercising their right to own and manage property. If social security cannot be found to be property, a court is likely to find income management to be a special measure for the benefit of Aboriginal people.
Nov 2, 2015
How to Cite
CAMPBELL, Fiona. The Cape York Welfare Reform Trial – Continuing Acts of Paternalism. QUT Law Review, [S.l.], v. 15, n. 1, nov. 2015. ISSN 2201-7275. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 01 feb. 2021. doi:
World Indigenous Legal Conference - Special Forum


Racial Discrimination, Property, income management, Cape York, Cape York Welfare Reform trial, Family Responsibilities Commission, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
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