Economic development funding boost for Cape York communities

Cape York First Nations communities are the latest to benefit from the Albanese Labor Government’s investment of up to $23 million to support greater economic employment and independence in the former Cashless Debit Card sites. 

Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, said that a Cape York initiative to build employment opportunities for First Nations people will be receiving funding of $2 million through the Community-led Solutions Economic Development (CSED) grant opportunity. 

“The Cape York Institute and its Walk with Us: Creating Job Opportunities initiative will strengthen and expand digital and physical infrastructure in the former cashless debit card regional areas of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge,” Minister Rishworth said. 

The project will provide financial literacy support and create sustained employment opportunities across the Far North Queensland regions.

The CSED was established in response to feedback and advocacy from community leaders seeking to break the cycle of welfare dependence by providing pathways to employment.

“As well as a strong connection to community and a proven track record in project delivery, Cape York Institute has a dedication to empower First Nations people to move from welfare dependence to an economically viable future – which directly reflects the goal of the grant round,” Minister Rishworth said.

Fiona Jose, CEO of Cape York Partnership welcomed the investment of federal funding into the region.

“Cape York Institute is very excited to work in partnership with local communities to create Opportunity Hubs for empowerment products that build financial literacy, access to affordable food through Mayi Market, and our highly sought after Opportunity Products,” Ms Jose said.

“Local people will be trained and employed to deliver these support services, and impart skills onto the families they serve. Local jobs for local people, serving local families.”

The Cape York Institute joins four other successful initiatives in Ceduna and Western Australia announced earlier this week, who will share in the $23 million of funding.

The successful organisations offer a range of approaches to create up-skilling and training opportunities, open pathways to jobs and enhance financial wellbeing for First Nations people – all tailored to the needs of their local communities.

The Albanese Labor Government has delivered on its commitment to abolish the mandatory Cashless Debit Card program and remove restrictions on how social security recipients spend their payments.

“We’ve delivered a long term and fully funded plan to ensure certainty, choice and support to communities moving off the Cashless Debit Card program and this grant opportunity is a part of that,” Minister Rishworth said.

“We will continue to work with local communities across Australia to ensure people are supported, and individual community needs are met.”

A second tranche of targeted funding will also be available from next financial year to progress further economic opportunities and initiatives with key organisations in former Cashless Debit Card sites. 

More information about the outcomes of the CSED grants and feedback for organisations is available on the Community Grants Hub website at