Is Centrelink Becoming A Dictatorship?3 Nov 2011
Many 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