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Thursday, 5 February 2009
Page: 665

Mr Tuckey asked the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, in writing, on 20 October 2008:

Is he aware of concern among relatives or associates of persons suffering from serious drug addiction, that the full cash payments scheduled to be made on 8 December 2008 under the Government’s Family Payments Program could lead to drug overdose of eligible recipients with drug addictions.

Ms Macklin (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Economic Security Strategy (ESS) Payment announced by the Government on

14 October 2008 provided $3.9 billion in support payments to low and middle income families. In order to ensure that payments were made before Christmas in most cases, eligible families received their payments in line with existing payment arrangements. In all, around 3.9 million Australian children benefited from the $1,000 ESS payment. A further $4.8 billion was paid to Australia’s 4 million pensioners, carers and seniors providing them with immediate financial help in the lead up to comprehensive reform of the pension system.

The Government helps to support and strengthen families through the provision of early intervention services to enhance family relationships, assist in problem solving, prevent family breakdown and resolve conflict around separation, provide support to families of drug users and reduce family violence, particularly in indigenous communities.

The Government is committed to protecting the health and safety of children and that is why those customers in our communities who are subject to income management have their ESS payment income managed at 100%. This is consistent with current arrangements for lump sum payments under income management. People will be able to discuss with Centrelink as to how they want to allocate the funding towards meeting priority needs and other non-prohibited expenditures.

Income management of these payments will help prevent a sudden flow of cash towards prohibited items such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, gambling and pornography.