The Hon. Robyn Mary McSweeney MLC, Minister for Child Protection. Community Services. Seniors and Volunteering
Income management will commence in Kununurra in the Kimberley and the Cannington district of Perth on November 24, 2008.
Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and Western Australian Minister for Child Protection, Robyn McSweeney, today announced the signing of a bilateral agreement between the Federal and State Governments.
The income management trial will give State child protection authorities the power to recommend to Centrelink that income support and family payments are quarantined to be used for the benefit of children.
Ms Macklin said the initiative was designed to prevent neglect and improve the lives of Australian 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.
"This measure will provide the Western Australian Government with another tool in the management of child neglect.
"The Australian Government is committed to a child-centred approach to family policy."
Under this initiative, up to 70 per cent of welfare payments and 100 per cent of lump sum payments will be income managed.
Mrs McSweeney said the Western Australian Department for Child Protection will provide case management support for the duration of income management, which may involve referral to other support services such as parenting support.
"Neglect is a hidden form of abuse and it would be unconscionable to most Australians that children are going to school without food in their stomach or other basic life necessities," Mrs McSweeney said.
"Through income management and the support programs that are in place I hope parents can be helped to learn how to manage their finances and provide better lives for their children.
"My primary concern is for our vulnerable children and I wholeheartedly support income management as a child protection measure."
Families subject to income management will also have access to advice and guidance from Australian Government-funded financial counsellors.
Last week, Australian and Western Australian Government officials met with local community groups in Cannington to discuss the trial.
The new BasicsCard will be available for the purchase of day-to-day items, such as food and clothing and direct-debit arrangements will be used for major expenses, including rent and utility bills.
Several major retailers have already signed on to the BasicsCard, including Coles and Woolworths.
The Australian Government has committed $18.9 million over two years for this child protection trial.
This initiative will be rolled out to Fitzroy Crossing, Derby, Broome, Halls Creek and other areas of the Kimberley over the coming months and is expected to apply to up to 1,000 individuals in 2008-09 across the trial locations.
The Australian Government will also trial voluntary income management in these selected communities for families who believe they will benefit from the measure.
The Western Australian trial is the third location where income management is being used to benefit local communities.
Experience in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Cape York will be used to inform the Australian Government's broader welfare reform agenda.
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