The Australian Government is working to help vulnerable families in five areas of high disadvantage across Australia with a range of new programs, including through the introduction of income management.
Income management helps families ensure their welfare payments are spent in the best interests of children.
It ensures that money is available for life essentials, and provides a tool to stabilise people's circumstances and ease immediate financial stress.
The five locations are the Local Government Areas of Bankstown (NSW), Greater Shepparton, (Vic), Rockhampton (Qld), Logan (Qld), and Playford (SA).
The Government chose these areas based on a number of factors, including unemployment, skills gaps, the numbers of people relying on welfare payments as their primary source of income and the length of time recipients have been receiving income support payments.
The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said it was important people in the five areas understand how income management will work in their community.
“From today, the model of income management that will operate in these locations is similar to the one that has been operating in Western Australia since 2008,” Ms Macklin said.
“More than 1,200 people are now participating in the income management in Western Australia, including 1,000 people who volunteered.
“An evaluation of people participating in the trial in Western Australia found most people thought that income management had improved their lives and those of their families.
“Income management is non-discriminatory. People on income management do not have to queue separately at shops and Centrelink will not take away people’s ability to set their own budget,” Ms Macklin said.
“I want welfare payments to be spent in the best interests of children – so that they have essentials like food on the table, stable housing and decent clothing.”
In the five sites, income management will apply to vulnerable families and individuals including:
For those people who volunteer for income management and those people who are assessed by social workers as being vulnerable, fifty per cent of their welfare payments are set aside for basic necessities.
Under child protection income management, seventy per cent of parents' welfare payments are set aside to be spent on the necessities of life such as food, housing, utilities, clothing, and medical care.
People participating in income management in the five locations will also be able to access free financial counselling and money management services.
These services have received a boost of over $12 million over five years until 2015-16 in the five communities to offer budget planning, money management information, assistance with negotiation with creditors, links to community services, and access to money management courses.
This is part of a trial to tackle intergenerational welfare dependency in 10 disadvantaged communities around Australia. In these locations the Government is also introducing new requirements and supports for teenage parents and jobless families to encourage them to finish their education, prepare for work and make sure their children are ready to start school.
More information about these initiatives can be found at:
Video and audio interviews of people involved in the income management trial that has been operating in Western Australia since 2008 can be found at:
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