Income management commences across the Kimberley
Income management will be rolled-out across the remainder of the Kimberley including Kalumburu, Noonkanbah and Beagle Bay, as part of the Australian and Western Australian Governments’ income management trial in Western Australia.
This builds on trials that begun in Kununurra and Cannington in November 2008, and Balgo, Halls Creek, Broome and Dampier Peninsula in January 2009.
The income management trial gives the WA Department of 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.
Voluntary income management has also been introduced in the Kimberley in response to people asking for assistance with managing their money.
More than 120 people are on voluntary income management.
Federal Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin said there had been a positive response to the introduction of income management in WA.
“We have had positive feedback from child protection authorities and people in the Kimberley, especially women, who find income management helpful in balancing the family budget,” Ms Macklin said.
“Income management is an important measure for ensuring welfare payments are spent in the interests of children and is a key plank of the Australian Government’s child-centred approach to family policy.”
WA Minister for Child Protection, Robyn McSweeney, said income management is helping parents learn how to manage their finances and provide better lives for their children.
“We have had reports from departmental workers that the initiative has allowed them to work much more easily with parents without the effect of drugs and alcohol stopping any meaningful engagement and it is hoped domestic violence will decrease,” Mrs McSweeney said
“I am confident that the rollout of income management across the Kimberley will assist parents in focusing on providing their children with the best start in life, which they all deserve.”
As part of the income management program, families will have access to financial management services including Australian Government funded financial counsellors.
In addition to existing services, including MoneyBusiness in Kununurra and financial counsellors in Cannington, local communities have been supported by the opening of new money management services in Broome, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek with outreach to Balgo.
Additional financial counselling has also been provided in Cannington.
The Australian Government has committed $18.9 million over two years for the trial, which will be evaluated to provide evidence for the Government’s broader welfare reform agenda.
Income managed families have up to 70 per cent of welfare payments and 100 per cent of lump sum payments quarantined to be spent on essential needs.
The WA Department for Child Protection provides ongoing case management support, while Centrelink works with families to identify their priority needs and direct their income managed funds accordingly.