Myths and facts about income management

Myth

Anyone who receives a Centrelink payment will be income managed.

Fact

A person can only go onto income management if they meet certain criteria.

People go onto income management for a range of reasons.  In areas where there is income management, people can be eligible for income management because they:

  • receive particular welfare payments, and/or
  • have been referred for income management, or
  • have volunteered to participate.

Myth

Under income management, I won’t have access to any cash.

Fact

People on the voluntary or vulnerable measures, or the Parenting/Participation Measure (Northern Territory only), of income management, can access half of their payments in cash to spend as they wish.

People referred for income management by state or territory child protection authorities, or the Northern Territory Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Tribunal, can access 30 per cent of their payments in cash to spend as they wish.

Myth

People will judge me if they see me using a BasicsCard.

Fact

The BasicsCard operates just like any other EFTPOS card through a store or business’s EFTPOS facilities. There are no separate queues for people who want to use their BasicsCard at a store.

The BasicsCard is available to anyone on income management if they want to use it.

If people don’t want to use the BasicsCard, there are other ways to access income managed money, including direct payments to stores and businesses.

Myth

People can only buy food and clothes with their BasicsCard.

Fact

People can use their BasicsCard at a range of different stores and businesses, as long as the store is approved to accept the BasicsCard.

There are more than 8000 BasicsCard merchants across Australia, ranging from large supermarkets and department stores to small independently run shops.

The BasicsCard can be used for many things, including food, non-alcoholic beverages, clothing, footwear, petrol, health and hygiene items, travel and household goods.

If a store isn’t approved to accept the BasicsCard, people can ask Centrelink to make a regular or one-off payment on their behalf.

Myth

People must stay on income management for as long as they receive a Centrelink payment.

Fact

The time a person is on income management depends on the measure they are on. Some people may be on income management for a short time, while others may be on it for longer.

People who volunteer for income management can exit income management at any time after an initial 13 week period.

Income management is one of a range of supports available to help stabilise a person’s situation.

Other support, such as financial counselling and money management skills training, are also available.

Myth

People placed on income management can’t appeal or object to the decision.

Fact

People have options if they disagree with a decision. They can ask for a review by the Centrelink social worker or Customer Service Advisor, the child protection worker, or the Northern Territory Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Tribunal, depending on the measure of income management they are on.

People who disagree with a decision made by Centrelink, can appeal further (at no cost) to:

  • a Centrelink Authorised Review Officer (ARO)
  • the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) and
  • the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

Myth

People can’t choose how to spend their money under income management.

Fact

Income management doesn’t change the amount of income a person receives, just the way some of it is received.

Centrelink officers talk with the person and together they work out the best way to direct money to priority needs for the person and their family.

People can use their income management money to pay for things like:

  • food / school food
  • clothes
  • rent / housing
  • medication / hospital bills / vets
  • bills (water, phone, electricity etc)
  • travel

People can use their income managed funds at a wide variety of small, medium and large businesses across Australia with a BasicsCard, or have money paid directly to the business.

Myth

There’s no proof that income management works.

Fact

Income management has been operating in various locations across Australia since 2007.

A 2012 evaluation report of income management in the Northern Territory found that people liked the BasicsCard. People in remote areas also thought they were able to buy more food and that their children’s wellbeing was improved.

Evaluation of the trial in Western Australia in 2010 found most respondents said income management had improved their lives.

Most respondents were also willing to recommend income management to others because of its positive impact on their lives and the skills they gained in budgeting and saving money.

Two-thirds of parents in the Western Australia evaluation found that income management helped them to budget and provide the essentials for their children.

Independent evaluations are continuing in the Northern Territory and the place-based sites to assess how income management is helping people.

Myth

Income management is for Indigenous Australians only.

Fact

Income management is non-discriminatory and is not applied based on race or cultural factors. People go onto income management for a range of reasons. In areas where there is income management, people can be eligible for income management because they:

  • receive particular welfare payments, and/or
  • have been referred for income management, or
  • have volunteered to participate

Income management helps Australians in need of assistance to budget and meet their essential needs, regardless of their ethnicity or cultural heritage.

Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are participating in income management in various locations across Australia including remote and urban locations.  

Evaluations from the Northern Territory and Western Australia have shown that both Indigenous and non‑Indigenous individuals and families have benefitted from income management.

More information

families.fahcsia.gov.au

humanservices.gov.au

1800 132 594 – Income management line

Content Updated: 10 December 2013