Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Extension of income management trial in Western Australia

The Australian Government will invest an extra $17.9 million to continue the trial of income management and financial management support services in Western Australia.

This will allow the trial of the child protection income management measure and voluntary income management currently being conducted across the Kimberley region and metropolitan Perth, in cooperation with the Western Australian Government, to continue until 30 June 2012.

Income management helps families ensure their welfare payments are spent in the best interests of children.

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

The child protection income management measure gives the Western Australian Department for Child Protection the power to recommend to Centrelink that income support and family payments are quarantined to ensure welfare is spent in the interests of children.

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.

Currently in Western Australia, more than 200 people are currently on child protection income management, with more than 700 people participating in voluntary income management.

As part of its investment, the Australian Government is providing $5.7 million to ensure people on income management can access financial literacy and counselling services, to help them improve their budgeting and money management skills.

More than 5,500 people across Western Australia accessed money management and financial counselling to help them better manage their money in 2009-10.

The income management trial has been operating in Western Australia since November 2008. A 2010 evaluation of people participating in the trial found most respondents said that income management had improved their lives and those of their families.

It also showed income management is helping to improve the lives of families in Western Australia by ensuring welfare is spent where it is intended – on the essentials of life and in the best interests of children.

A majority of people surveyed said they had either already recommended income management to others, or intended to do so.

Income management is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to reforming the welfare payments system and supporting people to take responsibility for themselves and their families.