Closing the Gap for Indigenous Australians - Northern Territory - Income management 

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)

Key Elements

The Australian Government has committed $69.2 million to continue the implementation of income management as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) for 2007-08 and 2008-09.

In 2008-09, integrated money management services will be introduced alongside income management to provide financial education, training and financial crisis support to people in Indigenous communities where income management has commenced. Another new feature of the measure is funding for an income management debit card that will provide greater flexibility in delivering income managed funds to customers.

Background

Income management is central to improving the situation of Indigenous families and children in the Northern Territory (NT) by diverting people's welfare payments away from purchases of alcohol, tobacco, pornography and from problem gambling. Centrelink sets aside 50 per cent of people's income support and family payments and these funds can only be spent on priority needs, such as food, clothing, rent, education and health care costs.

This measure assists families to meet essential household needs and expenses and helps ensure that payments for children are used for the benefit of children. In 2008-09 income management will apply to approximately 20,000 Centrelink customers in the NT.

Implementation

Before commencing income management in a community, Centrelink staff visit communities and sit with individuals and families to discuss weekly expenses and how these can be met using income management funds.

Indigenous people will be trained to develop skill-sets that they can use to meet day to day living expenses, reduce debt levels, increase asset purchases and build longer-term financial resilience.

This measure provides funding for ongoing service delivery and support to customers, engagement with community organisations and third party service providers and the operation and maintenance of IT systems to direct customers' income managed funds to nominated priority needs.

Funding in this measure is also allocated towards continuing the monitoring and periodic review of licensed community stores that are operating income management accounts for customers. The periodic review of licensed community stores will benefit communities through continued reform to store practices, leading to improved services and food supply in remote regions. Store operators also benefit from assistance and support to improve store operations.

Income management has been phased in on a community-by-community basis and covers most of the Indigenous communities in the NT.

Customers will be provided with income management debit cards on a progressive basis.

Total Government Funding

The Australian Government has committed total funds of $69.2 million in 2008-09. Further activity will be informed by the outcomes of the NTER review later this year.

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Content Updated: 23 May 2012