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Government & Opposition condemn vulnerable people to income management

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29 October 2012 - Media Release

Government & Opposition condemn vulnerable people to income management

The Government and Coalition today reaffirmed their commitment to the rollout of punitive income management measures around Australia, opposing an Australian Greens motion that would have prevented the flawed approach from being extended to vulnerable, low income families in Bankstown, Shepparton, Logan, Rockhampton and Playford.

“Income management is a failed and expensive policy that the Government is persisting with in the absence of any real justification,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Families and Community Services said today.

“Our disallowance motion would have curtailed the ‘trial’ of income management at five sites around the country, but the Government and Coalition voted to continue with their radical and unjust approach to people on income support.

“Serious doubts that have been raised about the impact that this ongoing commitment to top-down, heavy-handed paternalism has on individuals and communities alike.

“Minister Macklin has spoken of her ‘unshakeable belief in the power of responsive, evidence-based policy’ - but the reality is that the growing body of evidence, from the last four years’ worth of income quarantining in the NT and WA, already demonstrates that this policy isn’t working.

“Reports into the impacts of income management have raised serious concerns about the wellbeing of Aboriginal children and families under the Northern Territory Intervention. The Menzies Institute research found virtually no change to tobacco or fresh food purchases under income management, while the Health Impact Assessment found that compulsory income management had profound long-term negative impacts on psychological health, social health and wellbeing and cultural integrity.

“Likewise, a study conducted by the Equality Rights Alliance of more than 180 women with direct experience of Income Management found that 79% wanted to exit the system, 85% had not changed what they buy and 74% felt discriminated against.

“In addition to the potential harm caused by this approach, income management is very expensive to administer - but the Government is committing to it while at the same time cutting payments to up to 150,000 single parents in pursuit of an arbitrary surplus.

“Funding other areas, such as intensive case management, job search assistance and an increase to the desperately low rate of allowance payments such as Newstart could offer far more support to low income families by directly working with them to look for work and raise children.

“Clearly the Government wants to believe in the success of income management but the truth is it is a failed experiment and these trails should not be extended,” Senator Siewert concluded.

Media Enquiries - Chris Redman on 0418 401 180