Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Income Management rollout in Oombulgurri

Joint Media Release with:

  • Mark McGowan MLA, WA Acting Minister for Child Protection

Oombulgurri will be among the first five Western Australian communities to take part in income management under the Australian Government’s national child protection initiative.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs , Jenny Macklin, and WA Acting Minister for Child Protection, Mark McGowan
said the income management trial will give child protection authorities the power to recommend to Centrelink that income support and family payments are quarantined to be used for the benefit of the children.

“Income management is an important measure for ensuring welfare payments are spent in the interests of children and is a key element of the Government’s strategy to strengthen community safety and improve the protection of children,” Ms Macklin said.

“We are working with the WA Government to prevent neglect and abuse and restore social norms in dysfunctional communities.”

The initiative will begin in September in the Kimberley communities of Oombulgurri, Kununurra, Warmun and Wyndham and in the Perth suburb of Cannington.

In Coroner Hope’s inquiry into the deaths of five Oombulgurri community members released today, he recommended the implementation of a voucher system in respect of certain Government payments.

A bilateral agreement between the WA and Australian Governments for the child protection initiative is expected to be signed by the end of August 2008.

Under the agreement, the WA Department for Child Protection will be responsible for identifying and supporting families where children suffer neglect or engage in antisocial behaviour, including truancy.

Mr McGowan said that while the vast majority of parents did the right thing and cared very well for their children, there were a small number of parents who did not.

“The income management initiative, together with WA’s new Parental Support and Responsibility Act that gives courts the power to order parents to attend parenting programs, are strong and complementary new measures to address the neglect of children,” Mr McGowan said.

“As a combined approach to child protection, we expect these initiatives will strengthen the responsibility of parents and improve the lives of vulnerable or at-risk children.”

Families referred for income management would be case-managed by the Department for Child Protection and referred to the Department’s ParentSupport Service, an outreach program that helps parents improve their capacity to care and set appropriate limits for their children.

Financial counselling will also be available to all individuals on income management under this initiative.

The Australian Government has committed $18.9 million over two years for the child protection initiative, which will be evaluated to inform any future rollout of the measure.

The Government is providing Commonwealth leadership in child protection through the development of a National Framework for Child Protection.