Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Is Centrelink Becoming A Dictatorship?

3 Nov 2011Many people who receive welfare payments in Australia will be facing lots of changes ahead...

Recently, there was the announcement that as of next year, most people who receive disability payments will no longer be eligible, and you must have a permanent and debilitating disability to qualify.

As of July next year, I have learnt that further changes will take place.... Centrelink will be introducing (to NSW and the rest of Australia) a scheme which will monitor welfare payments for people who are at risk of squandering their money.

The program which is called the Income Management scheme was introduced into Western Australia last year. The government has a list of pre determined areas, which can include whole states or territories, which they deem to be either low income areas or areas that are at risk of having poor money management skills.

In a nut shell, Centrelink is planning on quarantining welfare recipient’s payments, to ensure they spend their money on what it’s intended for. It can affect anyone, on any payment...

Basically, if you’ve been on a payment for over a year, or 3 months for younger people, you may be given an income management account. All of your welfare monies will be divvied out between your income management account and something called your BasicsCard account.

A BasicsCard is somewhat like a key card, but it can only be used at certain government approved vendors. Depending on your circumstances, up to 70% of your welfare payments could be paid into your BasicsCard account, and you will be issued with a card and your own Personal Identification Number.

The initiative for this scheme is to prevent people spending all of their money on unnecessary items, such as alcohol, gambling and pornography, and ensure it is used towards paying for life’s necessities, such as rent, food, gas, electricity and clothing.

Channel 9’s A Current Affair, featured a story on their show about the new scheme, and followed a group of people who were opposing the idea and plan on fighting it. In NSW, the Income Management scheme will begin on the 1st July 2012, in the south western suburb of Bankstown, but there are plans to eventually extend it all over the state.

People who are opposing the idea are concerned that the scheme is more like a dictatorship, where the government is trying to control those who are potentially less vulnerable. But the government says that it’s all in the best interest of children and those at risk of facing homelessness because of poor money management.

As an example, if someone is at risk of being evicted from their home, or if a family has been flagged by the child protection agency for neglectful behaviour, the Income Management scheme can be bestowed upon them without their approval. This will ensure that their rent will be paid and their children will not want for anything essential.

Personally, I think this is a great idea, which is something I don’t say often when referring to the government. It’s sort of like having a separate account to help you budget. In essence, it should assist in preventing children and families who have to go without, so another family member can support their drug, alcohol or gambling habits.

The only thing that concerns me is that it could raise the crime rate. The only way to spend the money in the BasicsCard account is at the vendors that display the logo, so if someone has a serious addiction, it will be impossible for them to use this money to support it, therefore, it could lead to theft and other crimes in order to obtain money to sustain their drug or alcohol dependence.

To those who think that it’s unfair to have your spending controlled, don’t forget, you don’t earn this money, it is given to you, so until the government decides to control your hard earned wages, I don’t think there are any problems with their proposal.

To view the story that was featured on A Current Affair (ACA), click here: http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/article/8363109/welfare-outrage

Is Centrelink Becoming A Dictatorship?



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Previous Comments

sandra ahumada from Armidale posted on 28 Apr 2014
To whom it may concern,My husband lost his job last year and we are both on Centrelink payments. I think the card idea is a good one, I would not be apposed to being put on that kind of system, especially if you have children, that way you can ensure you always have food and bill money. Of course for some it will raise an invasion of privacy issue, however, I think that certain businesses maybe happy to 'donate' extra shopping money, for example if you were able to choose Cole's as your food shop they may give an extra $50 a month to their shoppers on a basics card, that is not part of the current payment rate. Also if you choose a particular electricity or telephone provider they may offer a 2% annual discount to basic card customers.The only problem I foresee at this point with the system, is that it needs to be fair. As Gary Foley, Robbie Thorpe, Adam Bandt, Adam Frogley, Kevin Bracken , Stephen Jolly (Councillor), In the report This Friday - It's time to stand up!(Friday, 29 October 2010,) discusses; currently this system is mostly trialled with the Indigenous population. Which I feel is discriminatory / racial. As previously stated this is a good idea however it needs to by uniformly applied to all Centrelink recipients, not just certain minority groups.I also feel that should this system be applied it may give further incentive for 'people' to further seek employment and have freedom to spend their paychecks as they want to.

frets from Melbourne posted on 27 Mar 2014
Good luck getting this to work what a novel idea so when your at the checkout other people will be able to see it and discriminate lol what a joke gett ready people this will cause more uproar than anything and there gonna try n say mental health isn't a disability good luck with that you cant put people on the dsp say there eligible then 6 years later say sorry you dont qualify anymore good luck there will be legal implications to this because of human rights violations mark my words

Barbara from Bundaberg Qld posted on 20 Jun 2013
I find it an affront. My husband and I are on a pension and I am a very good money manager, we don't go to casinos and the like, nor do we go to the pubs. We are frugal with our money and in fact I do save each fortnight some of what we get. At least I have enough as a back up should we need to buy a hot water service or anything important like that. So what happens if I get one of these cards and I only use it as required? Now lets say I have $100 left on it when the next pension is due, what happens to that!!! Can I get it cashed so to speak and put it in my savings??? A lot to be desired about this card, and count on it if I get it, everyone is going to know about it, loud and clear.

john from nsw posted on 29 Mar 2012
The above writer has evidently had very little involvement with this totalitarian regime that calls itself 'government' ?You are no better than them and if you are in the majority then you can all go to hell, so be it.Making disabled, sick people work for the pittance they will receive, shame on you, try it out yourself and see then if it 'feels' so warm and righteous ?As God freed the Israelites from Egypt so shall he free us from the likes of you and your blind leaders, don't forget the plagues ? the end of this tyranny is sooner than you think.

Jodie JoBlogs from Sydney posted on 29 Mar 2012
This is in reply to John from NSW, I am actually very familiar with the government, as I have been on Disability payments since I was 16 years old, that's over 10 years now. But, the difference is that I have also always worked hard or studied while receiving my payments. This article is referring to those who are on Unemployment Benefits, who choose to spend their 'free' money on drugs and alchohol instead of food and clothing for their children. It is also aimed at those who don't TRY to look for work, not those who CAN'T work at all...... Maybe you should go back and read the article again, so you can understand what it's really about...

Philip Tory from Sydney posted on 10 Nov 2011
My goodness, what an incredibally great idea; indeed, majorly, if this approach has hit certain desks, then the Government may have a case to answer in what might be argued were forseable consequences with dodgeable outcomes. The Gov't has the power, no one else does. It is a furthering of the brush applied in our outback communities which enabled petrol sniffing to be well curbed. regards all, p

Oliver Franklin from Bemboka posted on 4 Nov 2011
My wife and I have NO issues but consider this:So you are confident thatA) this won't be taken further with additional legislationAre a supporterB) That people must by items like potatoes at $3-4 /kg and low quality meat at highly inflated prices at Woolworths instead of a grocer at 70cents a /kg for top grade potatoes at a grocer and meat at a local butcher.C) Its ok for rural pensioners how can't drive and don't have a bus to travel 100+kms or even 250kms round trips to purchase from these outlets and have local business collapse.Simple outlooks are the beginning of ignorance

Patrick Wm Connally from Marin County California posted on 3 Nov 2011
If this were the USA were corporations are people, I would be for this if corporate welfare was included. However, why does the charity/service industry whose workers go home after work feel they can run people's lives 24/7. This is handicappisum pure and simple.

Sheemika Kendrick from USA posted on 3 Nov 2011
I like this idea, if your not spending your money the wrong way then you should have nothing to worry about. I can see how this could help out on what people are spending there money on.

Earth Waratah from Central Queensland posted on 3 Nov 2011
Are you aware that both sides of politics are seriously looking at making all welfare payments paid in return for work? This includes the Aged Pension even if you are 100 years old.Then there is Work for the Dole which is a program that saw thousands of paid employment positions, turned into this slave labour program. People were sacked to make way for fascism.And never forget that the most hated sections of society are always the lab rats for unpopular policy. Then they turn it on the people including those who work.And don't forget that the growth in welfare has not been to the poor sectors of society.

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