Income Management Debit Card 

Key elements

The Income Management Debit Card (IMDC) will utilise existing EFTPOS infrastructure to deliver income managed welfare payments efficiently to people in the Northern Territory (NT) and selected Western Australian communities.

The IMDC will result in significantly reduced administration costs, more flexible and streamlined access to income managed funds for customers, and a reduced administrative burden for third party providers.

The card can be used in shops with EFTPOS facilities which adhere to the Australian Government's terms and conditions.

Conditions include agreeing under contract not to sell alcohol, tobacco and other prohibited goods to customers using a debit card.

Using the EFTPOS network will make more data available for better-targeted compliance checks aimed at detecting breaches.

A special brand recognition symbol will be developed to help customers identify which stores and merchants have been approved to accept the debit card.


Welfare payment reform includes the use of income management which involves Centrelink directing a percentage of a customer's income support entitlements towards the purchase of priority needs such as food, health costs, rent, utilities and clothing.

Income management was first implemented in several communities in the NT in September 2007. As at the end of April 2008, more than 8,800 people across 44 communities and town camps in and around Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs will be on income management. These numbers are expected to continue to grow as income management is rolled out to more communities.

The Australian Government has indicated its desire to see that welfare payments are used for the benefit of children and not their detriment, and has flagged the development of a National Child Protection Framework under which income management would also operate.

The success of income management in the Northern Territory Emergency Response is contingent on the successful use of IMDC technology. It is expected that the IMDC will be rolled out to selected Western Australian communities from mid 2008.


The Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and Centrelink will jointly implement the use of the IMDC to efficiently deliver payments to customers on income management. This is a high quality, sustainable and scalable restricted payments system that will deliver on the intent of income management policy.

Total Government Funding

$17.3 million over 2007-08 and 2008-09.

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