Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Income management starts in Balgo and Halls Creek

Joint Media Release with:

  • Robyn Mary McSweeney MLC, WA Minister for Child Protection

Income management will commence in Halls Creek, Balgo and surrounding communities on 12 January 2009.

The initiative will be introduced across the remainder of the Kimberley by late February and is expected to apply to up to 1000 individuals across all trial locations.

“Income management is an important measure for ensuring welfare payments are spent in the interests of children and is a key element of the Australian Government’s child-centred approach to family policy,” Ms Macklin said.

“Income management will be an important measure in the Australian Government’s national child protection framework to be released this year.”

The income management trial will give the WA Department for Child Protection the power to recommend to Centrelink that income support and family payments are quarantined to ensure money is used for the benefit of children.

Mrs McSweeney said the WA Department for Child Protection will provide case management support for the duration of income management, which may involve referral to other support services such as parenting support.

“Neglect is a hidden form of abuse and it would be unconscionable to most Australians that children are going to school without food in their stomach or other basic life necessities,” Mrs McSweeney said.

“Through income management and the support programs that are in place I hope parents can be helped to learn how to manage their finances and provide better lives for their children.”

Families subject to income management will also have access to advice and guidance from Australian Government-funded financial counsellors.

Income managed families will have up to 70 per cent of welfare payments and 100 per cent of lump sum payments quarantined for use on essential needs.

About 80 individual stores in the areas covered by this initiative accept the new BasicsCard to purchase daily requirements including food and clothing, with direct-debit arrangements to be used for major expenses such as housing, rent and utilities.

Income managed funds cannot be used to buy alcohol, tobacco, pornography or gambling products.

Voluntary income management has also been introduced in the Kimberley in response to people, especially woman, asking for assistance with managing their money to meet the needs of their families.

A number of customers in and around Kununurra have already signed up for voluntary income management to help them manage their money.

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 management was initially implemented in the Kununurra area of the Kimberley and in the Cannington district of Perth on 24 November 2008.