Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Extra support for vulnerable families in Shepparton

The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today visited Shepparton to discuss new programs to help vulnerable families, including the introduction of income management.

“Income management helps families ensure their welfare payments are spent in the best interests of children,” Ms Macklin said.

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

Shepparton is one of five areas of disadvantage around Australia chosen to trial income management, as part of the Government’s efforts to help vulnerable families.

The Government chose these areas based on a number of factors, including unemployment, skills gaps, the numbers of people relying on welfare payments as their primary source of income and the length of time recipients have been receiving income support payments.

Ms Macklin today visited two services receiving funding as part of the trial – Primary Care Connect, which is providing financial management services, and The Bridge Youth Service, which is supporting young parents.

Ms Macklin said it was important people in Shepparton understand how income management will work in their community.

“The model of income management that will operate in Shepparton is similar to the one that has been operating in Western Australia since 2008,” Ms Macklin said.

“More than 1,200 people are now participating in the income management in Western Australia, including 1,000 people who volunteered.

“An evaluation of people participating in the trial in Western Australia found most people thought that income management had improved their lives and those of their families.

“Income management is non-discriminatory. People on income management do not have to queue separately at shops and Centrelink will not take away people’s ability to set their own budget,” Ms Macklin said.

“I want welfare payments to be spent in the best interests of children – so that they have essentials like food on the table, stable housing and decent clothing.”

In Shepparton, 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 Centrelink 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.

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

Under child protection income management, seventy per cent of parents’ welfare payments are set aside to be spent on the necessities of life such as food, housing, utilities, clothing, and medical care.

People participating in income management in the five locations will also be able to access free financial counselling and money management services.

The Australian Government is providing $1.1 million over three years to Primary Care Connect to deliver financial management services, including financial advice, mentoring, education and referral services.

Income management is part of a trial to tackle intergenerational welfare dependency in 10 disadvantaged communities around Australia. In these locations the Government is also introducing new requirements and supports for teenage parents and jobless families to encourage them to finish their education, prepare for work and make sure their children are ready to start school.

“The Australian Government recognises that some communities are missing out on the benefits of the growing economy,” Ms Macklin said.

“We want all Australians to have the opportunity to share in our nation’s prosperity.”

More information about these initiatives can be found at: