Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Ninety per cent of income managed funds on the BasicsCard used for food and clothing in the NT

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health and Member for Lingiari

New analysis of Centrelink data shows that around 90 per cent of welfare payments allocated to the BasicsCard across the 73 Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) communities have been spent in shops that predominantly sell food and clothing.

Since September 2008, more than $141 million has been spent using the BasicsCard, with more than $102 million spent on food and almost $25 million on clothing.

This analysis demonstrates that income management is delivering key benefits and highlights the importance of the Government’s major welfare reforms to protect children and strengthen families.

Income managed funds on the BasicsCard have predominately been used to purchase:

  • food – 72 per cent
  • clothing – 17 per cent
  • fuel – 5 per cent
  • household goods – 1 per cent
  • transport – 1 per cent

People on income management have also used their BasicsCard to purchase hardware and camping gear, and to pay for education and health expenses.

Income management is an important reform to fight passive welfare and ensure more money goes to food, clothes, rent and less money goes to buying alcohol and gambling.

Under income management, 50 per cent of income support and family payments is set aside so it can be spent on items essential for the wellbeing of children. Income managed funds cannot be spent on alcohol, cigarettes or gambling.

As part of major reforms to the welfare system, the Rudd Government will introduce a new income management scheme to protect children and families and help disengaged individuals.

From 1 July 2010, the scheme will begin to be rolled out in vulnerable regions, targeted at individuals at risk, commencing in the Northern Territory.

This demonstrates the Rudd Government’s determination to put the safety, health and wellbeing of children at the centre of our welfare agenda.

More than 16,000 people are currently subject to income management, and the BasicsCard is accepted in more than 500 shops and businesses across the Northern Territory.

One third of people on income management in the Northern Territory have accessed Money Management and Commonwealth Financial Counselling Services to help them learn how to manage their money better.