Pukatja, Amata and Mimili: family wellbeing centres

First posted on 18 November 2011 under Amata, Mimili & Pukatja.
This article has been updated and archived.
Tags: infrastructure

Summary

In mid 2008, the South Australian Government received $5 million from the Australian Government to build a court and administration centre at Umuwa on the APY Lands.[i] The facility was never built.

In September 2011, the State and Federal Governments announced that this funding would be redirected to establish Family Wellbeing Centres in three Anangu communities and that each Centre would provide families with a “single, coordinated access point for critical support services.”[ii]

Both the State and Federal Governments expected the Centres to be completed within “a tight and strongly managed implementation timetable.”[iii] Construction of all three Centres was originally due to be completed by the end of 2012.[iv] This timeframe was not met.

In November 2012, the State Government advised Parliament that the Amata Centre had been operational since August 2012 and that the others would be “in place and operational” by mid-2013.[v]

The Paper Trail

Introduction

In June 2008, the South Australian Government received $5 million to build a court and administration centre at Umuwa.[vi] This funding was provided by the Federal Government in direct response to the findings of the Mullighan Inquiry into child sexual abuse.[vii]

Two and a half years later, in November 2010, the State Government reported that the Umuwa centre would not be built and that it was in negotiations with the Federal Government as to how the funding would instead be spent.[viii]

As of 30 June 2011, the unspent funding was sitting in a “special deposit account” and had earned an estimated $597,000 in interest.[ix]

Family centres

More than six years earlier, in October 2004, the South Australian Government had allocated $2.16 million, over five years, to set up family support programs in four APY communities.[x] In time, this evolved into the establishment of community-specific “family centres“.[xi]

By November 2007, five such centres were up and running and another two were under development.[xii]

In April 2008, the Mullighan Inquiry reported that the centres carried out “very good and important work” and expressed support for their “continued operation and growth throughout all … [APY] communities.”[xiii]

On 24 July 2008, in its Preliminary Response to the Mullighan Inquiry, the State Government promised to maintain the family centres and associated homemaker programs.[xiv]

Notwithstanding this commitment, over the course of the next two years, the number of family centres operating on the APY Lands declined from seven in March 2009 to four in August 2010.[xv]

At the same time, little funding appears to have been provided to maintain those centres that continued to operate to an acceptable standard.

In June 2011, the Federal Government noted that the centres were “in extremely poor condition”.[xvi]

Government announcements (September 2011)

On 13 September 2011, the State and Federal Governments jointly announced that the $5 million originally provided for the Umuwa Court and Administration Centre would be used instead to “support the establishment of three Family Wellbeing Centres on the APY Lands.”[xvii]

The announcement stated that the centres would:

bring together a range of family support programs that currently operate from substandard facilities, providing a single, coordinated access point for critical support services. This will include services such as kitchen facilities to run nutrition and healthy eating classes as well as space for parenting and family support programs and temporary accommodation for visiting health and service delivery providers.[xviii]

The announcement also stated that:

  • the work of establishing the Centres would “proceed as a priority with a tight and strongly managed implementation timetable” and,
  • a “joint steering Committee of senior government officials” was expected to complete “detailed plans for the construction of these Centres” by the end of October 2011.[xix]

On 28 September 2011, a second joint announcement indicated that:

  • the first Centre would open in Amata “by mid 2012” and that an existing facility would be upgraded for this purpose,
  • the second Centre would be built in Mimili “by the end of 2012”, and
  • discussions about a third Centre in Pukatja were “underway”.[xx]

Each centre, the announcement continued, would be “a hub for services to better support families, women and children in the APY Lands.”[xxi]

Departmental statements

On 4 October 2011, the South Australian Department for Families and Communities informed a State Parliamentary Committee that:

  • four family centres continued to operate in APY communities,
  • the newly-announced Family Wellbeing Centres would “operate differently” from the existing centres,
  • Mimili’s Family Wellbeing Centre would replace the community’s existing family centre,
  • Amata’s Family Wellbeing Centre might be located in the underused substance misuse facility, and
  • in Pukatja, some existing facilities  – including the community’s youth shed and the child and family centre – might in future “come under a family and wellbeing centre service”.[xxii]

Departmental changes and advice

On 21 October 2011, the South Australian Government “recast” some departmental roles and responsibilities. As part of these changes, the responsibilities of the Department for Families and Communities were divided across two new Departments.[xxiii]

The Paper Tracker understands that the new Department for Communities and Social Inclusion is primarily responsible for the construction and ongoing operation of the three Family and Wellbeing Centres.[xxiv]

On the same day that these changes were announced, South Australia’s Department of the Premier and Cabinet reported that “the nature of the services to be provided through the Family Wellbeing Centres and the recurrent and operational costs for providing these services” had not yet been finalised.[xxv]

Ministerial advice (November 2011)

“Detailed plans” on the construction of each Family Wellbeing Centre and its operating model were due to be completed by 31 October 2011.[xxvi]

On 10 November 2011, the Hon Tammy Franks MLC (Australian Greens) asked South Australia’s Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion (Hon Ian Hunter MLC) for an update on this work.[xxvii]

In reply, the Minister confirmed that:

  • a new facility will be built in Mimili,
  • the substance misuse centre in Amata “will be adapted for this new purpose”,
  • and “additional infrastructure [may be] provided in Pukatja.”[xxviii]

The Minister also indicated that:

  • the necessary building works would be completed in Amata and Pukatja by July 2012 and in Mimili by December 2012,
  • the amount of funding to be spent on each Centre had not yet been finalised,
  • the Centre would provide new facilities for “existing services that are already funded by the responsible agencies”, and
  • the Centre’s operating costs would be met by funding already “built into the budgets” of those existing services.[xxix]

The Minister explained that the Centres would:

  • “be open each day of the working week”, and
  • provide “a range of services” including “early childhood programs, health service provision, family and community programs, disability programs, youth programs and, of course, administration.”[xxx]

The Minister also noted that the Centres would provide a location for:

  • “the NPY Women’s Council to provide counselling and support services to women and children experiencing family violence,” and
  • “a number of formal and informal programs [to be] delivered by a range of government and non-government agencies for women and children.”[xxxi]

Government update (November 2012)

On 29 November 2012, the South Australian Government advised State Parliament that:

  • the Amata Family Wellbeing Centre had “commenced operations in August 2012” and that a “range of programs and organisations” now operated from the facility including drug and alcohol services, disability services and a Home and Community program; and
  • the Mimili and Pukatja Family Wellbeing Centres would be “in place and operational” by “mid-2013”.[xxxii]

This article has been archived and will no longer be updated. It will, however, remain accessible online as a source of background information for anyone wishing to undertake further research on this issue. Information included in the article was current at the time it was archived. Keep in mind, however, that Ministerial changes and names of departments, among other things, may have since changed.


[i] Corbisiero, S. (FaHCSIA). 18 June 2008. Letter to the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (and attached Schedules).

[ii] Macklin, J and Portolesi, G. 13 September 2011. “Supporting the people of the APY Lands”, joint media release.

[iii] Macklin, J and Portolesi, G. 13 September 2011. “Supporting the people of the APY Lands”, joint media joint release. Also: Macklin, J and Portolesi, G. 28 September 2011. “Working together for people of the APY Lands”, joint media release.

[iv] See: Macklin, J and Portolesi, G. 28 September 2011. “Working together for people of the APY Lands”, joint media release. Also: Parliament of South Australia. 10 November 2011. “APY Lands, Family Wellbeing Centres,” Hansard, Legislative Council, p4391.

[v] Government of South Australia. November 2012. Fourth Annual Report by the Minister for Education and Child Development to the Children on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands Commission of Inquiry – A Report into Sexual Abuse, p11-12.

[vi] Corbisiero, S. (FaHCSIA). 18 June 2008. Letter to the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (and attached Schedules).

[vii] Macklin, J. 13 August 2008. “$4.5 million for infrastructure on the APY Lands,” media release.

[viii] Rankine, J. November 2010. Second Annual Report to the Parliament of South Australia by the Minister for Families and Communities on the ‘Children on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands Commission of Inquiry – A Report into Sexual Abuse,” p7.

[ix] Portolesi, G. 29 July 2011. “Minute forming enclosure to the Premier for Cabinet Re: Question on Notice … Umuwa Courthouse”.

[x] The exact amount of the allocation was $2,163,000 over five years; $355,100 was allocated for 2004/05, increasing to $459,400pa by 2008/09 (see Department of the Premier and Cabinet, 2004, “Taskforce funded projects on the APY Lands,” p2.

[xi] See, for example: “Progress on the APY Lands,” November 2007, Department of the Premier and Cabinet (SA), p4.

[xii] Mullighan, E. April 2008, Children on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands: Commission of Inquiry – a report into sexual abuse, p127. See also: “Progress on the APY Lands,” November 2007, Department of the Premier and Cabinet (SA), p4.

[xiii] Mullighan, E. April 2008, Children on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands: Commission of Inquiry – a report into sexual abuse, p129-130.

[xiv] Government of South Australia, July 2008, “Response by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation to the ‘Children on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands Commission of Inquiry: A report into sexual abuse’,” p[3].

[xv] Government of South Australia. March 2009, “Senate Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities, SA Government Response to Questions on Notice,” p4-5. Also: Clemow, M. 4 August 2010. Letter to Rev P McDonald for the Office of the State Minister for Families and Communities.

[xvi] Armitage, J (FaHCSIA). 24 June 2011. Transcript of evidence given to the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, Parliament of South Australia, Q490.

[xvii] Macklin, J and Portolesi, G. 13 September 2011. “Supporting the people of the APY Lands”, joint media release.

[xviii] Macklin, J and Portolesi, G. 13 September 2011. “Supporting the people of the APY Lands”, joint media release.

[xix] Macklin, J and Portolesi, G. 13 September 2011. “Supporting the people of the APY Lands”, joint media release.

[xx] Macklin, J and Portolesi, G. 28 September 2011. “Working together for people of the APY Lands”, joint media release.

[xxi] Macklin, J and Portolesi, G. 28 September 2011. “Working together for people of the APY Lands”, joint media release.

[xxii] Mazel, J and Wallace, S. 4 October 2011. Transcript of evidence given to the Budget and Finance Committee, Legislative Council, Parliament of South Australia, p875-878.

[xxiii] Hallion, J (DPC). 21 October 2011. “New Directions for the South Australian Public Service,” email message to South Australian Government employees.

[xxiv] See: Parliament of South Australia. 10 November 2011. “APY Lands, Family Wellbeing Centres,” Hansard, Legislative Council, p4391.

[xxv] Hallion, J (DPC). 21 October 2011. Letter and attachments provide to Budget and Finance Committee, Legislative Council, Parliament of South Australia.

[xxvi] Macklin, J and Portolesi, G. 13 September 2011. “Supporting the people of the APY Lands”, joint media release.

[xxvii] Parliament of South Australia. 10 November 2011. “APY Lands, Family Wellbeing Centres,” Hansard, Legislative Council, p4391.

[xxviii] Parliament of South Australia. 10 November 2011. “APY Lands, Family Wellbeing Centres,” Hansard, Legislative Council, p4391.

[xxix] Parliament of South Australia. 10 November 2011. “APY Lands, Family Wellbeing Centres,” Hansard, Legislative Council, p4391.

[xxx] Parliament of South Australia. 10 November 2011. “APY Lands, Family Wellbeing Centres,” Hansard, Legislative Council, p4391.

[xxxi] Parliament of South Australia. 10 November 2011. “APY Lands, Family Wellbeing Centres,” Hansard, Legislative Council, p4391.

[xxxii] Government of South Australia. November 2012. Fourth Annual Report by the Minister for Education and Child Development to the Children on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands Commission of Inquiry – A Report into Sexual Abuse, p11-12.

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