Income management experiences – case studies

Watch videos of people involved in income management in Western Australia, including participants, the Jacaranda Community Centre and the WA Department for Child Protection.

Case studies

Stacey’s financial relief

Stacey is a 27-year-old single mother of three children aged eight, seven and three.

Just before Christmas 2011, she was in crisis. Stacey had been issued with an eviction notice due to rental arrears, every bill was overdue, and buying Christmas presents for her children was out of the question. Six months later, Stacey has cleared all but one of her debts, is studying part-time and feels much more secure.

“In December, I was beside myself,” says Stacey. “Every single bill was overdue and we were just about to get evicted.”

Stacey had been thinking about going on Voluntary Income Management for some time.

“I knew a little about income management but not the details,” says Stacey. She sought help from the Jacaranda Community Centre in WA to understand more about how it could work for her.

“I gave Lyndsey at Jacaranda all of my outstanding bills and we worked out a plan for getting me back on track.”

At Centrelink, Stacey was given a list of participating shops and businesses which accept the BasicsCard.

“I was actually really happy with the list. I like to shop around and I saw that my local IGA, Coles and Woolies were on there, so that meant I could still shop at the places I wanted to.”

Stacey says the shop assistants have all been positive and ‘normal’ when she uses her BasicsCard to purchase items.

Stacey said the initial 13-week period was enough to demonstrate the value of income management for her.

“After the initial period, I realised I was getting closer to being debt free,” she explains. Now, she is ahead in paying all of her bills, except for her electricity provider, where the debt is being progressively paid off.

“I’ve even paid my registration two weeks before the due date!”

Stacey admits she’s had to re-think her attitude and spending habits as well.

Going on Voluntary Income Management meant that Stacey was able to keep her family at the same house and survive the eviction notice.

“My manager at the Community Housing Agency recently sent me an email saying he doesn’t want to lose me as a tenant, so that’s a pretty big indication of how far things have turned around since December.”

In February, Stacey commenced studying part-time for a Certificate III in Community Services. Outlaying for items such as text books and computers was a challenge.

“I went without some of the books for the first part of the course,” explains Stacey.

Now that she is back in the black with most of her payments, Stacey will be better able to prepare for these items in her budget in the future.

Stacey has briefly told her young children about the fact that she is now managing her money in a different way.

“They have a money box each and try to save a bit themselves. It’s very cute! They now understand that they can’t just have what they want when they want it.”

Stacey admits she’s had to re-think her attitude and spending habits as well.

“I’ve learned a lot being on income management. It’s made me grow up and realise that I do actually have to pay bills – they don’t go away. I’ve been bugging my sister to try it for herself because I see her struggling like I use to.”

“I feel so much more secure now. Knowing that the debts are almost all cleared, I’m ahead in paying my bills… it’s such a relief.”

Guidance and support

Margaret* was left to look after four children after her husband died in 2000.

A combination of health issues including open heart surgery, severe depression and chronic pain following a serious car accident, left Margaret struggling to cope with everyday household chores. Margaret was in receipt of disability support pension.

It was not long after all this happened that child protection authorities became involved and her children went to stay with friends so the she could ‘sort herself out’ and get the house in order. One by one the children were returned to her.

Some months later, Margaret received her husband’s death benefit. She used this money to spoil her children, which resulted in her daughter Naomi becoming very dependent on her; she even started demanding all of the money.

Margaret was left with numerous debts, including a $2,000 phone bill. Margaret approached the Department for Child Protection requesting financial assistance. The Department suggested Voluntary Income Management. Not long after being placed on income management, Margaret managed to get all of her financial affairs in order.

Margaret says that since being on income management, she can now pay her mortgage.

‘I am now in credit with my household bills, including being able to save over $800 in my kitty,’ Margaret said.

She now has a part-time job and enjoys receiving the $250 incentive payment.

*names have been changed for anonymity

Back on track

Sarah* is a young mother from WA who was unable to provide regular accommodation and food for herself and her 10 year old son Dylan*.

Sarah regularly attended local services for food vouchers and other assistance, including paying for her drug treatment program. Dylan had attended several schools over the years and his grades were low. He often went without lunch and he didn’t attend school activities which required payment, like swimming lessons or camps.

Having been without permanent accommodation for at least three years, Sarah was tired of continually moving. She was in arrears with her bills, and her friends did not want her staying with them anymore.

Sarah was placed on the Child Protection Measure of Income Management and was initially upset about the decision. However, within weeks she told her case manager that she could see its benefits. Sarah found she was budgeting her money to ensure she could buy food throughout the week.

‘I felt less stressed about paying my bills and being in arrears,’ Sarah said.

Sarah is now in permanent accommodation and no longer seeks food vouchers or other monetary assistance. She can regularly pay for the methadone medication to treat her drug addiction, which has kept her stable and off other drugs. 

Dylan has started the school year in a new school, near to their new home and his attendance has already improved. Through income management, arrangements have been made to regularly pay for school activities and lunches.

Being on income management has also helped Sarah to cut back on buying cigarettes and has reduced her smoking habit. 

After months of assistance, Sarah’s initial reactions to income management have been turned around. She has asked to continue with income management support via Voluntary Income Management.

*names have been changed for anonymity

More information

Find out more about income management:

  • humanservices.gov.au
  • talk to your local Department of Human Services—Centrelink Income Management Contact Officer
  • call the Income Management Line (for customers only) on 1800 132 594.

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