Income management in the Northern Territory

Income management has operated in the Northern Territory since 2007.

Who does it apply to?

In the Northern Territory, income management may apply to:

  • People referred for income management by child protection authorities
  • People who volunteer for income management
  • People referred for income management by the Northern Territory Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Tribunal
  • People assessed by a Centrelink social worker as being vulnerable to financial crisis
  • People who are placed on the Vulnerable Welfare Recipient Measure, because they are:
    • under 16 years of age and receiving the Special Benefit payment, or
    • receiving the Unreasonable To Live at Home independent rate of payment for youth allowance, disability support payment, or ABSTUDY, or
    • under the age of 25, and receives a Crisis Payment due to prison release.

Referral criteria for the child protection measure in the Northern Territory are determined by the Northern Territory Department of Children and Families, according to its internal policies and procedures. People are referred by the Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Tribunal, under the Supporting People at Risk measure of income management, if they are referred for mandatory treatment.

How does it work?

Income management does not change the amount of Centrelink payments a person receives. It just changes the way that they receive part of their payment. People participating in income management receive the balance of their payments in the usual way.

Income management works by ensuring that part of the person’s payment is allocated to pay for priority items such as food, housing, clothing, utilities, education and medical care. Centrelink assists people on income management to identify their expenses and helps them adjust their allocations as required.

Income management limits expenditure of Centrelink payments on excluded items, including alcohol, tobacco, pornography, gambling goods and activities. There is no restriction on how a person can use the proportion of their payments that are not income managed.

What percentage of a person’s Centrelink payments is income managed?

Under the child protection and the Supporting People at Risk measures of income management, 70 per cent of a person's Centrelink payments is set aside for necessities such as food, housing, utilities, clothing and medical care. For people on other measures of income management, 50 per cent of their welfare payments is generally set aside for basic necessities.

100 per cent of lump sums and advance payments are income managed.

How can people spend their money?

People can spend their income managed funds in the following ways:

  • by allocating money to the BasicsCard, which can be spent at various stores for items such as food, clothing, petrol, health and hygiene products
  • asking Centrelink to make payments from their income management account for regular expenses such as rent and bills, school meals programs and payments to community stores
  • asking Centrelink to make one-off payments to stores and
  • if their priority needs have been met, allocate income managed funds to items that are not priority needs (as long as they are not excluded items). This means people can plan ahead to buy larger items such as motor vehicles or whitegoods with their income managed funds.

Income managed funds cannot be used to purchase excluded goods, including alcohol, home brew kits, home brew concentrates, tobacco products, pornographic material and gambling goods and activities.

Who can apply for an exemption from income management?

People who are income managed under the Participation / Parenting Measure can apply for an exemption from income management.

What other support services do people receive?

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 to people on income management. They can use these services and seek a priority referral upon request from Centrelink.

For more information:

  • go to
  • 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
  • call Indigenous services on 1800 136 380.

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