Evaluating New Income Management in the Northern Territory: first evaluation report

30 Nov 2012

This report evaluates how effectively New Income Management was rolled out in the Northern Territory.

In May 2010, the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) commissioned a consortium consisting of the Social Policy Research Centre (University of New South Wales), the Australian National University and the Australian Institute of Family Studies to evaluate the impact of New Income Management (NIM). This is the first evaluation report and considers how effectively the measure was rolled out; how the transition from the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) Income Manamge to NIM was managed; and initial data on the impacts of NIM. It covers the initial implementation period and the first 12 months after full implementation. While the evaluation will continue to 2014, the data collected to date allows some clear initial findings to be made.

The evaluation has involved extensive data analysis including a survey of over 800 people in the Northern Territory who are on income management and a comparison group of income support recipients outside of the Northern Territory, as well as detailed Centrelink administrative data. We have also undertaken extensive interviews with Centrelink staff, those involved in providing money management and financial counselling services, child protection workers, merchants in the Northern Territory, as well as people who are subject to income management. In much of our evaluation, data from all three sources has been used to ‘triangulate’ or verify findings.

The one dimension of the evaluation which has not been considered at this stage is the economic evaluation of the program. FaHCSIA have sought to have this undertaken in the later stages of the evaluation when they consider there will be a better appreciation of the full costs of program implementation as well as the breakdown of costs between establishment and operation.

Authored by J Rob Bray, Matthew Gray, Kelly Hand, Bruce Bradbury, Christine Eastman and Ilan Katz.

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