Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Financial support services for people in Shepparton

Joint Media Release with:

  • Jenny Macklin MP
    Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
    Minister for Disability Reform
    Senator Kim Carr MP
    Minister for Human Services

  • Julie Collins MP
    Minister for Community Services
    Senator Kim Carr MP
    Minister for Human Services

People in Shepparton will get extra support to help manage their money, with the Australian Government providing $1 million over three years to fund additional financial support services.

These services will help support the introduction of income management in Shepparton from 1 July 2012.

Primary Care Connect will deliver the additional money management and financial counselling services in Shepparton to assist people on income management to stabilise their financial situation and improve their financial literacy skills.

The Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin, said that income management helps families ensure that welfare payments are spent in the best interests of children.

“It ensures that money is available for life’s essentials and provides a tool to stabilise people’s circumstances and ease immediate financial stress,” Ms Macklin said.

“These financial management services, including financial advice, mentoring, education and referral services will provide additional support to people who volunteer for income management or who are referred by social workers.”

The Minister for Community Services, Julie Collins, said the free financial support services will also be available to young parents, jobless and other vulnerable people and families.

“Financial support services, including financial counsellors, help people resolve short and long-term financial difficulties. They provide individual tailored financial advice, including helping people to set goals, better manage their debts, and participate in community education activities,” Ms Collins said.

In Shepparton, from 1 July 2012, income management will apply to vulnerable families and individuals including:

  • people referred for income management by state or territory child protection authorities where children are being neglected or are at risk;
  • people assessed by Department of Human Services social workers as being vulnerable to factors including financial crisis which could include people who are at risk of homelessness due to rental arrears; and
  • people who volunteer for income management.

The Minister for Human Services, Senator Kim Carr, said more than 157 shops, businesses, utilities providers and other organisations in Shepparton are getting ready for the start of income management on 1 July 2012.

“In Shepparton, we expect that the majority of people participating in income management will be volunteers who want some help with their budgets to make sure their basic expenses are covered,” Senator Kim Carr said.

“The Department of Human Services will work very closely with Shepparton residents to make sure they know where their money can be allocated, and how they can access it.”

Of the shops in Shepparton, 114 can accept payment through the BasicsCard, which can be used through existing EFTPOS facilities.

Another 43-including utilities and public housing providers, schools and other organisations-are set up to receive direct income managed payments.

Across Victoria, 1,235 shops can accept payment through the BasicsCard and, nationally, there are more than 6,400.

The Department of Human Services will continue to sign up shops in the Shepparton area as income management is introduced and customers advise where they would like to shop.

Shepparton is one of five locations around Australia chosen to have income management rolled out, based on a number of factors, including unemployment, skills gaps, the number of people relying on welfare payments as their primary source of income and the length of time recipients have been receiving income support payments.

For those people who volunteer for income management and those people who are assessed by social workers as being vulnerable, 50 per cent of their welfare payments are set aside for basic necessities.

Under child protection income management, 70 per cent of parents’ welfare payments are set aside to be spent on the necessities of life.

Income managed funds cannot be spent on alcohol, tobacco, pornography and gambling products.