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Where to for income management?

Patrick McClure’s February 2015 report on welfare reform urged a cautious approach to the expansion of income management, arguing that it should be used ‘judiciously’ and recommending that any changes should be informed by evaluations. The evaluation research released so far suggests that income management is most effective when it is voluntary or is applied to participants after considering their individual circumstances. However experience shows that assessing clients individually is time consuming and costly and that relying on volunteers limits numbers. Both could prevent the scheme achieving economies of scale. Read more...

The Forrest review and 'cashless welfare'

One of the more contentious elements in Andrew Forrest’s recent Indigenous Jobs and Training Review was the proposal for a for ‘cashless welfare’ system, provided through what he calls a ‘Healthy Welfare Card’. This FlagPost outlines key aspects of the proposal, highlighting where it differs from both the current income management system and Australia’s welfare arrangements in general. What is proposed? The Healthy Welfare Card would be based on the Basics Card which currently underpins the various income management schemes across Australia. It would be: issued as a debit card through a financial institution able to be used at any Austra... Read more...

Extending income management in Cape York

Legislation introduced into Parliament last week proposes to extend operation of income management in Cape York for a further two years until the end of 2015. This will be the third time income management has been extended in Cape York since it began in 2008. The Government argues that income management is a key element of welfare reform efforts in Cape York, which it says have 'seen improved school attendance, care and protection of children and community safety'.Cape York income managementIncome management refers to a policy under which a percentage of the welfare payments of certain people is set aside to be spent only on ‘priority items’ such as food, housing, clothing, education and hea... Read more...

Asylum seekers and income management

The Shadow Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, recently proposed that certain asylum seekers living in the community should be required to work on community projects in exchange for food and accommodation vouchers. The vouchers would be instead of cash, which Mr Morrison said could be used to pay 'people smugglers debts'. The Immigration Minister, Brendan O'Connor indicated that the idea was one 'worth considering'.While media reports and commentary have suggested a relationship between the 'work for vouchers' proposal and income management, there are actually some significant differences between the two.Income management refers to a policy under which a percentage of the income support pa... Read more...

New Place Based Income Management to commence 1 July

A new form of income management being introduced next week will extend welfare quarantining to selected disadvantaged areas across Australia, targeting people involved in child protection matters and deemed vulnerable to financial hardship.From 1 July, the Government will introduce a new form of income management to communities in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.   So, how will the new Place Based Income Management operate and how does it differ from existing forms? Why base it in particular areas? What do we know about whether or not it is likely to be successful?  Place Based Income Management will apply in the following Local Government Areas (LGAs):Bankstown, Ne... Read more...

Income management: some answers to key questions

From 1 July 2012, income management will be extended to five new disadvantaged communities across Australia: Bankstown (New South Wales), Logan (Queensland), Rockhampton (Queensland), Playford (South Australia) and Greater Shepparton (Victoria).While the policy of income management of welfare payments has been highly controversial, the specific details of its various forms are not generally well understood. The Parliamentary Library has released a Background Note seeking to address this lack of understanding. It provides a brief overview of the history of income management and responses to a number of key questions about the policy.Questions answered by the Background Note include: what is i... Read more...

Is income management working?

    Much of the debate surrounding income management of welfare payments has related to the question of evidence. That is, is there evidence to justify the policy? Alternatively, is there evidence of policy failure or harmful consequences arising from income management? In other words, is income management working?Income management (also known as ‘welfare quarantining’) refers to a policy under which a percentage of the welfare payments of certain people are set aside to be spent only on ‘priority goods and services’ such as food, housing, clothing, education and health care. Introduced by the Howard Government in 2007, income management has been criticised by some as paternalist a... Read more...

Income management and the Racial Discrimination Act

 In March 2011, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, is reported to have said that it is likely that some time in the future a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) will be lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in relation to income management of welfare payments on the grounds that it discriminates against Indigenous people. If any such complaint were upheld, this would be a significant test of one of the main pillars of the Australian Government’s welfare reform agenda.This raises the question of how the AHRC—the statutory body with responsibility for resolving complaints of discrimination or breaches of huma... Read more...

What's the future for income management in the Northern Territory?

In her foreword to the Government’s recent discussion paper on the future of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, argued that lack of consultation had caused ‘ongoing anger, fear and distrust among indigenous people’ and that the next stage of the NTER would need to be based on ‘partnership with Aboriginal people’. To this end, the Government plans to consult with Aboriginal people over coming months about ‘what has worked well and where improvements can be made’.Interestingly, the paper does not include income management as one of its ‘eight areas for future action’. Indeed, the paper argues that ‘as income management applies ... Read more...

Child protection income management in the Northern Territory

The Gillard Government recently announced that child protection income management was being rolled out in the Northern Territory (NT). Under this program, child protection workers in the NT will be able to refer parents to Centrelink for compulsory income management when children are being neglected or are at risk of neglect. Provision for child protection income management to be introduced into the NT was created through changes  to the NT Emergency Response earlier this year.Income management refers to arrangements whereby a percentage of the income support and family payments of certain people is set aside to be spent only on ‘priority goods and services’ such as food, housing, clothing, ... Read more...

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