The Department of Community Services and Ethnic Affairs was established when Community Services included the administration of Ethnic Affairs in its responsibilities. The name was changed by proclamation on 14 December 1987.
The policy of the Department was to assist Aborigines and Torres Strait people to achieve economic and social growth in their communities through the effective management of natural and human resources, with the ultimate goal of full participation and self-determination, a move towards a supportive rather than a directive role for the Department. There were programmes and activities put in place to gradually transfer administrative responsibilities, resources and personnel to the Aboriginal Councils.
The Ethnic Affairs Office provided support and assistance to ethnic communities towards self sufficiency, encouraging multiculturalism.
Aboriginal and Islanders:
The provision of funding, support and advice for the development of:
- Aboriginal rights
- Infrastructure maintenance on communities
- Consultancy and support services towards self-determination
- Industry and business such as artefact production, retail stores, cattle, farming,
fishing and transport industries, small business, etc
- Housing and accommodation in urban areas
- Cultural and sport promotion
- Welfare services including financial management, consumerism, employment and
training, alcohol rehabilitation, women's issues, essential services, etc
- Special projects
Ethnic Affairs Office:
Through programmes, services and activities -
- Assistance to ethnic associations
- Liaison between community organisations and Government Departments
- Advise on Immigration Policy
- Assistance to ethnic communities with self-sufficiency
- Promotion of multiculturalism
- Language services and accommodation for immigrants
The Community Services and Ethnic Affairs Department was attached to the following portfolios over a period of two years: Minister for Northern Development, Community Services and Ethnic Affairs Dec 1987 - Jan 1989; Minister for Community Services and Ethnic Affairs Jan 1989 - Aug 1989; Minister for Community Services, Ethnic Affairs and Northern Development Aug 1989 - Sep 1989; Minister for Community Services and Minister for Emergency Services and Administrative Services Sep 1989 - Dec 1989.
Queensland was divided into 14 Aboriginal Communities or Trust areas managed by Aboriginal Councils (Cherbourg, Doomadgee, Edward River, Foleyvale, Hope Vale, Kowanyama, Lockhart River, Northern Peninsula Area, Palm Island, Torres Strait, Weipa South, Woorabinda, Wujal Wujal, Yarrabah). The Torres Strait area was divided into 16 Communities or Trust areas, also managed by Island Councils (Badu Island, Boigu Island, Coconut Island, Dauan Island, Darnley Island, Hammond Island, Horn Island, Mabulag Island, Moa Island, Murray Island, Saibai Island, Thursday Island, Warraber Island, Yorke Island).
The Aboriginal Councils and Torres Strait Island Councils were elected like local governments and had ever increasing responsibilities, such as administering the Deeds of Grant in Trust on behalf of their Communities, undertaking some building programmes and making by-laws. By 1989, 25 communities had already attained full local government status. The Co-ordinating Councils attended to matters such as tourism, fishing rights, police and justice, economic development, health and welfare, development policy, management of cultural and natural resources, etc.
The Department also managed the Ethnic Affairs Office, which formed an Ethnic Affairs Advisory Council, an advisory body to the Minister.
On 7 December 1989 the Department of Community Services and Ethnic Affairs was amalgamated with the Department of Family Services under the new name of Department of Family Services and Aboriginal and Islander Affairs.