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From 1st of July 2012 some welfare recipients living in a declared area may be subject to Compulsory Income Management. Income Management (also known as ‘Welfare Quarantining’) refers to arrangements whereby a percentage of the income support and family payments will be set aside to be spent only on ‘Priority goods and services’. (SSA Act, ss123TH)

The payment is not reduced, but part of the payment is restricted to be used on ‘Priority Goods and Services’. This means a welfare recipient will lose the discretion to spend a percentage of their welfare income on things other than those deemed to be priorities. The recipient will be issued with a Basics Card, which can be used for payment of food, clothing, health items, education and training, child care, housing, household utilities, public transport and acquisition, repair and maintenance of motor vehicle. The Basics Card can be only used at the approved stores and businesses through the EFTPOS system.

Declared Areas for Compulsory Income Management

There are five targeted areas.  The whole of the Northern Territory is a declared area.  In Western Australia, Kimberley region and Perth, in Queensland the area of Rockhampton and Logan,  in NSW the area of Bankstown, In South Australia, the area of Playford and in Victoria the area of Shepparton are all declared areas (SSA Act, ss123TFA). While section 123TFA has been repealed, the Determination of these areas as declared areas is still in force.

Who May Be Affected in these areas?

There are five categories of people who will be affected: (SSA Actss123UA-123UFA)

  • Young people under 25 who have been on nominated payments for at least 13 weeks in the last 26 weeks;
  • ‘Long-term unemployed’ over 25 who been on nominated payments for at least 52 weeks in the previous 104 weeks;
  • Income Support recipients assessed as ‘vulnerable’ by a Centrelink social worker;
  • Individuals referred for income management by child protection authorities;
  • Individuals who request voluntary income management.

For Shepparton welfare recipients though only categories 3, 4 and 5 will be applicable.

Welfare recipients subject to compulsory income management have right to apply for an exemption. The exemptions available depend on whether the recipient is the main carer of a school age child. (SSA Act, ss123UGB-123UGG) For details contact 132 594 or visit Centrelink’s website.

Recipients also have an appeal right in relation to income management. Please see Social Security Appeals process explained below. However a referral from a child protection to income management should be appealed to within the Child Protection Authority who made the referral.

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