The Australian Government will introduce income management in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the Top End of South Australia to help families ensure their welfare payments are spent in the best interests of children, according to a media release from Jenny Macklin, Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
A similar system operates in the Northern Territory under the Federal Intervention.
“Income management ensures that money is available for life essentials, and provides a tool to stabilise people’s circumstances and ease immediate financial stress,” says the release.
“Consultations in May this year with APY Lands communities clearly showed strong support for income management on the Lands.
“APY Lands residents told us income management would help them better manage their money and help stop humbugging, ensuring there is enough money for life essentials, such as food, housing and clothing.
“Earlier this year, the Australian and South Australian Governments announced $2.82 million of new investment in child protection, family support and money management services in the APY Lands.
“The introduction of income management will be another important tool to help families in the APY Lands budget in the best interests of their children.
“The model of income management that will be rolled out in the APY Lands from October 2012 is similar to the one that has been operating in Western Australia since 2008 and that was introduced on 1 July this year in five locations across Australia.
“More than 1,400 people are now participating in income management in Western Australia, including 1,100 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.
“All people on the APY Lands, including those participating in income management, will also be able to access free financial counselling and money management services.
“From October people on the APY Lands will be able volunteer for income management and once appropriate systems are in place, income management will apply to:
• people referred for income management by state child protection authorities where children are being neglected or are at risk;
• people assessed by Centrelink social workers as being vulnerable to factors including financial crisis, which could include people who are at risk of homelessness due to rental arrears; and
• people who volunteer for income management.
“Income management ensures a percentage of income support and family assistance payments are directed toward necessities including food, housing, utilities, clothing and medical care.
“For those people who volunteer for income management and those who are assessed by social workers as being vulnerable, 50 per cent of their welfare payments will be set aside for necessities. Under child protection income management, 70 per cent of parents’ welfare payments will be set aside to be spent on necessities.
“The Government will also begin consultations with people in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in Western Australia about the possible introduction of income management there, after community members said they were also interested in income management.
“Ngaanyatjarra communities face similar social issues and levels of disadvantage to those on the APY Lands and many people travel regularly between these locations.”
Picture: Minister Macklin in Alice Springs in 2008.