• The new pin-protected BasicsCard to enable welfare recipients to buy essentials. The card will replace the existing income-management system that uses store cards and accounts. (AAP) (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Income management will continue in all its current locations across Australia. Some argue it unfairly targets First Nations peoples.
By
Myles Morgan

Source:
NITV News
9 Sep 2015 - 11:47 AM  UPDATED 9 Sep 2015 - 11:53 AM

TRANSCRIPT

Natalie Ahmat: Labor and the government voted last night to continue the Income Management schemes which prevent welfare benefits from being used to buy alcohol or to gamble.

Political correspondent Myles Morgan says some argue that income management unfairly targets First Nations peoples.

Myles Morgan: Government evaluations of Income Management in the Northern Territrory have found little to no improvement in combatting spending on drugs or alcohol.

"A person's personal circumstances, are disregarded in order to simplify administration. This measure will be used to put classes of people who the government considers vulnerable onto Income Management"

But it didn't stop the Senate last night voting to amend the scheme to continue for two more years.

Mitch Fifield, Assistant Social Services Minister: To ensure that vulnerable people benefiting from income management continue to receive support, the government has committed $146.7 million to extend a streamlined version of income management to all existing locations until 30 June 2017. This will align end dates across all 12 locations across Australia.

Claire Moore, QLD Labor Senator: We will continue to support income management as a tool that is very clearly targeted towards vulnerable people to help resolve their vulnerability and as a tool that is carefully targeted towards vulnerable Australians to help manage their lives better. 

Tens of thousands of Australians volunteer or are forced onto income management - which quarantines 50 to 100 per cent of their welfare payments for things like food and rent.

The idea is it will stop spending on things like drugs, gambling and pornography.

"This bill, contrary to public perception, is not about a particular class of individuals. It is not just about Indigenous communities, either"

It's certainly affecting many Indigenous people. Nearly every person on income management in the NT is Indigenous.

Nick Xenophon, Independent SA Senator: This bill, contrary to public perception, is not about a particular class of individuals. It is not just about Indigenous communities, either. It is about a range of communities in which people face huge social challenges. The bill removes incentive payments and measures that have not worked in increasing the take-up rates of voluntary income management schemes. 

One thing Labor and the Greens did try to oppose were the Governments' moves to 'streamline the process'.

That means social workers will no longer look at someone's personal circumstances and individually recommend people for income management.

Mitch Fifield: This was an underutilised tool by social workers and highly resource intensive. 

Rachel Siewert, WA Greens Senator: So a person's case-by-case assessment, a person's personal circumstances, are disregarded in order to simplify administration. This measure will be used to put classes of people who the government considers vulnerable onto Income Management.

Myles Morgan, NITV News