Compulsory income management

Compulsory income management is a social security system established to ensure that a percentage of government income support is spent on priority goods and services such as food, child care and utilities.

What is income management?

From 1 July 2012, some welfare recipients living in a declared area may be subject to compulsory income management. Income management refers to arrangements whereby a percentage of the income support and family payments will be set aside to be spent only on “priority needs” (s 123TH SSA Act).

The payment is not reduced, but part of the payment is restricted to be used on “priority needs”. This means a welfare recipient will lose the choice to spend a percentage of their welfare income on things other than those deemed by the government to be priorities. The recipient will be issued with a Basics Card, which can be used for payment of food, clothing, health items, education and training, child care, housing, household utilities, public transport and acquisition, repair and maintenance of motor vehicle. The Basics Card can be only used at the approved stores and businesses through the EFTPOS system.

Declared areas for compulsory income management

There are several targeted areas. The whole of the Northern Territory is a declared area. In Western Australia, the Kimberley region, Peel region, NG Lands, Laverton Shire and metropolitan Perth are declared areas. In Queensland, Rockhampton, Livingstone, Logan, Cape York and Doomadgee are declared areas. In NSW the area of Bankstown, in South Australia the areas of Playford, the APY Lands and Greater Adelaide, and in Victoria the area of Shepparton are all declared areas (s 123TFA SSA Act). People may be affected differently in different areas.

Who may be affected in Victoria?

To be under income management in Victoria you must live in the greater Shepparton area.

You must be receiving a payment from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and have been referred by a social worker or a child protection authority.

Or, you are a young person who is not a full-time student or apprentice and:

you have been granted the Unreasonable to Live at Home rate of payment; or

you are under 16 years old and have been granted the Special Benefit Payment; or

you are under 25 years old and have been released from prison and have been given Crisis Payment in the last 13 weeks.

Or you can volunteer to go on Income Management.

You will know you are on Income Management because Centrelink will contact you.

Welfare recipients subject to compulsory income management have the right to apply for an exemption. The exemptions available depend on whether the recipient is the main carer of a school-age child (ss 123UGB–123UGG SSA Act). For details contact 132 594 or visit Centrelink’s website.

Recipients also have an appeal right in relation to income management. The appeals process is explained in “Administrative Appeals Tribunal”. However, a referral from a child protection agency to income management should be appealed to within the Child Protection Authority who made the referral. In Victoria, in some circumstances, it can be reviewed by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.