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Bankstown income management plans target the vulnerable – Greens

Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon met with members of the Bankstown Council's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee today to discuss a proposed trial of income management in Bankstown from 1 July 2012. The Australian Greens are calling on the Government to abandon compulsory income management in the face of an ever-growing body of evidence highlighting the detrimental effect of the policy.

Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens community services spokesperson said:

 "The personal degradation caused by this policy is clear in a recent study into women and income management.

"Reports from the Northern Territory, where compulsory income management has been widely introduced, paint an alarming picture about the impact the policy has on already marginalised people.

"The Women’s Equality Rights Alliance report released in August on women’s experience of income management in the Northern Territory found the policy had, in many cases, led to social exclusion, loss of self-respect and had little impact on women’s spending habits.

"It is distressing to hear reports of a fear culture in which people are too afraid to speak to Centrelink for fear of being income managed.

"In some cases people were reluctant to seek help from Centrelink, even in the most extreme circumstances, such as when seeking to leave abusive relationships.

"This report indicates that income management degrades vulnerable women, in some cases placing them in dangerous situations where they avoid reporting family violence, it makes it harder for them to take care of their families, and it doesn’t change their spending habits,” Senator Siewart said.

Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon said:

“There is a robust, caring and connected community in Bankstown. Imposing this trial in this area, without consultation, is poor practice and reflects the bankrupt principles inherent in the scheme.

 “Income quarantining will leave low-income families in Bankstown with extremely limited control of their day-to-day finances.

 “Centrelink will be micromanaging people’s budgets and those caught up in the scheme will be forced to queue separately to other people in shops.

“The broad coalition of groups which have come together to stop the trial is evidence of the depths of opposition to income management being put in place.

“This is a top down, paternalistic initiative which is reminiscent of darker times.

 “The Greens will continue to campaign for Income Management to be dropped and funding redirected to more constructive initiatives to support vulnerable people, such as job creation and community services,” Senator Rhiannon said.

For more information visit te Campaign Coalition website.

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