Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Weekly payments for vulnerable Australians

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Human Services

Vulnerable Australians will have the option to receive their regular income support payments weekly under legislation introduced into Parliament today.

The Social Security and Family Legislation Amendment (Weekly Payments) Bill 2010 will help vulnerable people better manage their money, and forms part of the Rudd Government’s response to homelessness and the White Paper, The Road Home.

Under the proposed changes, Centrelink officers will identify customers who have difficulties budgeting their payments across the fortnight, and offer the weekly payment option.

The Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin, said the changes would help people, particularly the homeless and those at risk of homelessness, to manage their finances.

“This reform will target vulnerable Australians who find it difficult to budget and often end the fortnight with no money in their pockets and bills left to pay,” Ms Macklin said.

“These changes will help ensure people have regular access to money to purchase food, clothing and medicines, and keep up with regular payments such as rent.

“By identifying people at risk and offering the weekly payment option we hope to prevent people from being evicted or defaulting on their home loans.”

The , Tanya Plibersek, said the weekly payments would help families and individuals struggling with their rent and bills to keep a roof over their heads.

“Homelessness is a national priority and these changes will make sure that people are balancing their money across the fortnight, making it easier to stay on top of rent and mortgage repayments,” Ms Plibersek said.

“This is one of the many practical ways the Rudd Government is helping prevent vulnerable Australians from becoming homeless.

“We’ve already committed $1.2 billion for new services and more than 19,300 new social housing dwellings through the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan to help address the issue.

“We also employ 90 Centrelink Community Engagement Officers to help people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, connect with mental health services, hostels, boarding houses, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and emergency accommodation.”

Mr Bowen said the changes would help Centrelink to better respond to the needs of customers.

“The Government is committed to improving service delivery for all Australians,” Mr Bowen said.

“This includes tailoring Centrelink’s services to assist the most vulnerable people in our society by providing them with more options.”