The Australian is reporting new figures that show 60% of people on income management are choosing to stay on it.

Whether they are really “voluntarily” remaining on income management is perhaps debatable. Consider Paddy’s Gibson’s article a few weeks ago about his experience when he accompanied somebody who wanted to remove themselves from the system.

Is it just too hard to get off income management rather than a choice to remain?

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin needs to stop perpetuating misinformation about income management and its supposed benefits, particularly to children, says a spokesperson for the Intervention Rollback Action Group, which is based in Alice Springs.

There is no evidence, either in Australia or internationally, that income management helps underprivileged people to deal with issues arising from their circumstances. The measure in fact goes against the government’s own policy of social inclusion. Extending the measure to other areas of disadvantage around the country will not help people who are struggling to cope with issues impacting on their lives but will add to their psychological and financial stress.

“Out of the hundreds of people we have spoken to over the last 2 _ years, no-one has said they like income management or find it a ‘useful tool’ as the Minister keeps stating” says Marlene Hodder from the Intervention Rollback Action Group based in Alice Springs. “No-one has actually said it is good for them and is helping them manage their money. If people were given a real choice they would opt not to be income managed.”

“Mothers are finding it hard to provide for their children and families,” reports Barbara Shaw from Mt Nancy Town Camp. “People are now walking out from community stores with less food than before the intervention. It’s hard for old people who don’t have ID. It’s hard for people who have to spend $200 on transport to get to a major centre and aren’t able to pool their money,” Ms Shaw added.

Life has become harder for people on low incomes struggling to survive and deal with the extra requirements under the system and the difficulties of having an uncertain and split income. Lack of access to services such as transport and telephones is an added stress. The group’s recent research findings show that many Aboriginal people are now being forced to work for the dole and receive half their pay on Basics Card.

Barbara Shaw asks “How can people be happy when they’re working for the dole as cheap ‘slave labour’ and then getting only half their pay?”

“The real jobs that were promised are just non-existent. Minister Macklin is ignoring her own department’s reports and all the expert findings. She is planning to spend another $350 million on this ineffective means of controlling people’s incomes and their lives – money desperately needed to provide employment and basic services” says Paddy Gibson from the Intervention Rollback Action Group.


Catholic Social Services Australia’s Executive Director, Frank Quinlan, said the absence of consultation in the development of new income management legislation currently before the Parliament has demonstrated the desperate need for an effective Compact between the Federal Government and community organisations. Mr Quinlan welcomed the extensive consultation with the community sector over the past two years which has led to the Compact – a principles-based document which advocates stronger, more meaningful partnerships with not-for-profit organisations. But he warned the Compact would have implications for future government policy development. In a real partnership, the Government would not introduce such sweeping and revolutionary legislation without genuine consultation with those agencies and individuals who are closest to the heart of the matter, Mr Quinlan said.