Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Rudd and Carpenter Governments to Deliver Income Management Trial

The Australian and West Australian (WA) Governments will introduce income management trials in selected WA communities, including the Kimberley, to help protect children identified at risk by WA coroner Alastair Hope.

This will be the first activation of income management powers in child protection cases under the National Child Protection Framework.

Income management is already being rolled-out in prescribed communities in the Northern Territory and will be implemented under the Families Responsibilities Commission in Cape York from July, subject to the passage of legislation in the Queensland Parliament.

In his inquiry into the deaths of 22 Kimberley men and women, the coroner recommended that in cases of child neglect, compulsory income management should be made available to officers from the state Department of Child Protection.

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.

We will use existing legislative authority for the trial.

The WA Government will be required to provide support services as part of the implementation of income management.

I also support an expansion of alcohol restrictions across the Kimberley.

These are complicated matters, which require extensive on the ground support. We have begun working with the WA Government on our roles and responsibilities and the locations of the trials which will result in a detailed bilateral agreement.

We are expecting to start the roll-out on the ground in the second half of the year.

We are determined to do everything possible to prevent neglect and abuse and restore social norms and I am pleased the WA Government had joined us in this resolve.

In his report, the coroner painted a picture of a failed community, where the “plight of little children is especially pathetic.”

The reality we are facing today in many remote Indigenous communities stems from decades of entrenched pre-conceptions and vested interests.

But we have to take this on. What’s at stake here is a generation of Indigenous children, Australian children, for whom time is fast running out.