Government Makes Changes to Income Management Scheme
29 November 2012 at 11:10 am
The Federal Government has announced changes to the delivery of the controversial income management scheme in the Northern Territory, in response to findings from an interim evaluation report.
The interim report by the Australian National University, Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales found that among Indigenous people on income management in the Northern Territory, concludes that for many people the program largely operates more as a means of control rather than a process for building behaviours or changing attitudes or norms.
The report said evidence suggests that income management has had a diverse set of impacts.
“Taken as a whole there is not strong evidence that, at this stage, the program has had a major impact on outcomes overall. Although many individuals report some gains, others report more negative effects,” the report said.
The report has identified some areas where income management could operate more effectively, including clearer exemption processes for people who are on compulsory income management and better targeted money management courses.
In response, the Government says it is making changes to improve the delivery of income management in the Northern Territory.
These changes will apply from July 1, 2013 and will include ensuring parents on compulsory income management have a clearer pathway to apply for an exemption.
“Under the new arrangements, parents will receive more regular reminders from Centrelink about their responsibilities and the requirements they need to satisfy to qualify for an exemption, such as ensuring that their child has regular health checks, is immunised, and attends school," the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said.
“The Government will also strengthen the relationship between money management services and Centrelink, to ensure people on income management are receiving help to build their financial literacy, including budgeting, banking, savings and awareness of the risks of payday loans.
“To ensure vulnerable young people are assisted to better manage their income support payments, the Government is also introducing additional triggers for automatic inclusion on income management under the vulnerable measure."
Income management will also apply to:
- people aged under 16 years granted the Special Benefit by a social worker or those aged 16 and over granted the Unreasonable to Live at Home payment by a social worker; and
- people under the age of 25 who receive crisis payment due to prison release, and who live in a location which offers the vulnerable measure of income management.
“Under these new triggers, people will be placed on income management for 12 months, with a social worker reviewing the person’s situation at the end of those 12 months.
“If a social worker assesses that income management is not appropriate for a particular customer, they can be taken off income management within the 12 months,” the Minister said.
The model of income management operating in the Northern Territory is different to the model operating in Western Australia and other areas of disadvantage around Australia.