'Basics' card causes anger in Sydney

Income management was introduced into Northern Territory communities under the Intervention; but it's now being trialled outside the N.T., reports Katrina Yu.

Income management was introduced into Northern Territory communities under the Intervention, but it's now being trialled outside the N.T.

The system quarantines between fifty to seventy per cent of welfare payments, only at government endorsed stores, and only for necessities.

It will be trialled in five disadvantaged areas next year, but a group from one of the sites says the policy is discriminatory.

"Income doesn't need to be managed it needs to be increased!", one group was cheering in Western Sydney today.

People identified as "vulnerable to financial crisis" will have up to 70% of their Centrelink payments put onto 'Basics Cards.'

They'll only be used for so-called necessities in specified stores such as Coles and Woolworths.

It's designed to help families manage their finances, but Barbara Shaw - who's lived under the system for four years in the Territory, says it's made life harder.

"I hate income management it's a waste a time, a waste of money and I think the government ahould have found me a real job", the activist told SBS.

The trial will also be rolled out at in Playford South Australia, Shepparton in Victoria, plus Rockhampton and Logan in Queensland.

The government says the sites were chosen based on factors such as unemployment, skills gaps and the amount of people relying on welfare as their primary income. But community leaders say the policy ignores the real needs of recipients.

Campaigners claim that the $117.5m in funding could be better spent. St Vincent De Paul's CEO John Falzon is amongst them.

"We should be providing a more adequate income, more support services to enable people to live fulfilling lives, and have the opportunities the rest of Australia has."

The Arab Council's Randa Kattan says it stigmatises recipients and will only make things worse for Bankstown.

"It's an extremely punitive policy, it punishes people, it doesn't build communities", Mr Kattan said.

An estimated 20,000 will be affected by the five-year trial.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch