Income management (IM) has applied in the Northern Territory (NT) since 2007. IM is designed to ensure that income support payments are used to pay for necessary goods and services rather than discretionary items and activities. Initially targeting Indigenous Australians living in remote and very remote communities, it has been applied across the entire NT, depending on a person‘s payment circumstances, since mid-2010.
This report details reviews of two areas of Centrelink‘s IM decision making, namely:
a) decisions to refuse to exempt people from IM because Centrelink has formed the view that there have been indications of financial vulnerability in the past 12 months
b) decisions to apply IM to people because Centrelink social workers have assessed those people as vulnerable welfare payment recipients (VWPRs).
IM decisions have far-reaching consequences for affected people, who are often geographically remote or isolated and among the least empowered to pursue review rights or complaints mechanisms. They may also be disadvantaged by language, literacy and knowledge barriers. To safeguard the rights of these people, Centrelink‘s IM decisions must comply with all legislative requirements, be supported by sound evidence and rigorous assessment, and meet policy objectives.