Alarm bells are ringing amongst some in the mental health sector about the potential impact of the Feds’ plans for a wider roll out of income management.
Here is what Barbara Hocking, executive director of SANE Australia, has to say:
“I understand the reasoning behind it and the need for some monitoring/management to ensure that children and others are protected and not unnecessarily disadvantaged.
However, careful evaluation of the scheme is critical before any broad expansion.
I would be concerned if there was national roll-out and it was introduced for all welfare and family payment recipients, including people who are either single or in well managing family situations.
It is critical that it be an ‘opt in’ proposal rather than a blanket one which does not consider each person’s circumstances and that the exemption process is straightforward and accessible.
Whether living with or without a mental illness, some people may welcome such support, while others will definitely not – some are managing their meagre incomes very carefully and would feel that they have lost any last vestiges of dignity.
And, for disability support pension recipients living with mental illness or other disability, this scheme misses the point that what is most needed is extra income to cover the additional costs associated with their illness/disability, as well as the financial counselling and money management services that many (but not all), need.
If we are serious about helping disengaged and disadvantaged people who too often have to choose between health care or meeting daily needs such as food, what about making PBS co-payments, gap payments and other recommended medical services more affordable for people on low incomes, so they are not faced with these unenviable decisions? See here for more information.”