Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Social Services Legislation Amendment (Queensland Commission Income Management Regime) Bill 2017; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The speech read as follows—
SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (QUEENSLAND COMMISSION INCOME MANAGEMENT REGIME) BILL 2017
This Bill will amend the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 to allow the Income Management element of Cape York Welfare Reform to continue for two additional years until 30 June 2019.
Income Management ensures welfare payments are used to meet the essential needs of vulnerable people and their dependents.
Income Management sets aside a percentage of a recipient's welfare payment to ensure it can only be spent on priority goods and services such as food, housing, clothing, education and health care.
People on Income Management are also provided with support to improve money management skills. Centrelink assists Income Management participants to identify expenses and helps them budget so their welfare payments can meet these expenses.
Income Management supports 25,693 vulnerable people in locations across Australia, including individuals referred by child protection authorities.
Funding for Income Management was due to cease on 30 June 2017. Government has decided to extend Income Management in all existing locations until
30 June 2019.
Extending Income Management for two years ensures continuity of support for vulnerable participants while allowing Government time to work through future directions for welfare quarantining.
There are high risks associated with ceasing Income Management without a mechanism to replace it.
An influx of cash into Income Management sites could lead to an increase in levels of violence, hospitalisation and abuse.
Income Management also increases food security in communities as it encourages community stores to stock plenty of food and household goods. If Income Management ceased on 30 June 2017, this could be compromised.
Income Management in Cape York is the only Income Management measure with a legislated sunset date. Current legislation allows for all other Income Management measures to continue beyond 30 June 2017.
Cape York Welfare Reform is a partnership between the communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge, the Australian Government, the Queensland Government and the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership. It aims to restore local Indigenous authority, rebuild social norms, encourage positive behaviours, and improve economic and living conditions.
Income Management is an important component of Cape York Welfare Reform. Currently, a person can be placed on to Income Management after a decision by the Family Responsibilities Commission made before 1 July 2017. Where welfare recipients are referred to the Commission, the Commission can also discuss the issues with the individual and link them with relevant support services.
Cape York Welfare Reform commenced in the four partnership communities on
1 July 2008.
In 2016, Income Management was extended to the community of Doomadgee. Doomadgee is not formally part of the Cape York Welfare Reform Partnership, however the same referral pathway for Income Management applied in the four communities applies in Doomadgee.
There are currently 196 participants on Income Management in Cape York and Doomadgee.
The Income Management component of the Cape York Welfare Reform is a powerful tool, designed to be used both as a mechanism for ensuring that welfare payments are spent on necessities and as an incentive for individuals to engage with social supports and make positive behavioural change.
The approach of Cape York Welfare Reform has yielded positive results for both individuals and communities.
Participating communities have seen significant improvements to their economic and living conditions.
A 2012 evaluation of Cape York Welfare Reform found that progress has been made at the foundational level in stabilising social circumstances and fostering behavioural change. This was particularly in the areas of sending children to school, caring for children and increasing individual responsibility.
The evaluation also found there was evidence that Income Management assists in reducing behaviours that lead people to being referred to the Family Responsibilities Commission.
Further, 78 per cent of income managed people surveyed reported that the program had made their lives better.
This Bill extends the date before which the Families Responsibilities Commission can make a decision to place a person on Income Management to 1 July 2019. This enables Income Management to continue in Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale, Mossman Gorge and Doomadgee for a further two years.
This amendment aligns with the end date of Income Management in all existing locations across Australia.
The proposed approach to the extension of Income Management in Cape York was discussed with Queensland Government and the Cape York Partnership which agreed this was the best approach and met the needs of Cape York Welfare Reform at this time.