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House Music: Income Management QLD

Income Management is a hot topic of concern. This week, in “House Music” I discuss Income Management and the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs. I will also discuss the FRC in Cape York. The FRC is the Families Responsibilities Commission. This commission has input into income management restrictions in their community.

House Music is a weekly blog where I discuss various Bills, Committees, Petitions and try to raise awareness of the valuable resources on the APH website.  

Income Management Bill (QLD Commission)

The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs considered the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Queensland Commission Income Management Regime) Bill 2017. This Bill passed through both houses on 26th June 2017.

This Bill amends the Social Security Act (1999) and it includes an extension to income management in Cape York, Queensland until 30 June 2019. Cape York communities are participants in the Cape York welfare Reforms.

Cape York Income Management areasThe communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge are the original participating communities from 2007. The community of Doomadgee was added in 2015.

This Bill enables Family Responsibilities Commissions (FRC) to make a determination regarding income management for individuals in their community.

Cape York Welfare Reforms

Cape York Welfare Reform

Cape York Partnership Empowering Families

 

The Cape York Welfare Reforms initially commenced in 2007 through the Cape York Institute’s federally funded project headed by Noel Pearson.  This legislated reform commenced in 2008, once Pearson secured Government support. Therefore, this reform had tripartite support between Cape York Institute, QLD Labor Bligh Government with the support of the Rudd Labor Federal Government.

In addition, the outgoing Howard Government was very supportive of this project. The Howard Government funded the initial trial project, including funding for additional housing.

Four communities partnered with the Cape York Institute and the Queensland and Federal Governments in a Welfare Reform Partnership.

The main aim of this reform is to enable people in these communities to have empowerment and personal agency. Primarily, the aim is to achieve this through Indigenous authority, developing a culture of social norms and positive behaviour and improvements in living conditions.

A theme I discuss often is the negative narrative of the Government and their labelling of people on welfare.  The Cape York Partnership sums up powerful decision makers as they negatively describe those on welfare as ‘bludgers.’

This mentality is also shared by bureaucracy that sees people on the ground as incapable. Instead of simply providing resources and facilitating decision-making and action at the ground level, it hoards power and responsibility.

However, I personally do not agree with the term ‘passive welfare’ which the Cape York Institute uses in their final report. It is my view that welfare dependency is not about passivity because welfare is within a system of power which disables empowerment, agency and personal power.

A Different Type of Income Management

The theme of community driven self-empowerment is evident in the FRC reports.

A number of reports have been issued since 2011 about the progress of the reforms, including an ABC Four Corners documentary.  Moreover, the contrast of comments in the 2011 report to the current FRC reports, shows that years later, more of the community members are on board than at the time of implementation. In addition, a key theme in the 2011 consultations was that this needed to be a long term approach. ‘Things won’t happen overnight’.

Chris logan.JPG

 

 

“It is great for us to finally have income management in Doomadgee. We have issued 28 conditional income management orders to our clients and they have been well received.

 

and.. We know that income management is a necessary tool to see our community grow and we look forward to seeing the positive results it has for our clients.

 

We know we have many challenges ahead, but our team is strong and we will continue to work together to improve the lives of and prospects for the children of Doomadgee.”
Doomadgee Commissioner Christopher Logan

Family Responsibilities Commission

The Family Responsibilities Commission is a Statutory Authority under the Family Responsibilities Act 2008 (QLD). Respected leaders or Elders within the community make up the FRC. Importantly, the FRC has consultations or conference with community members to reinforce positive social norms.

The aims of the FRC are:

FRC objectives

The FRC receive notices from various departments about a breach of community standards, i.e. a child not attending school.

Decisions made at the conference are made fairly and with the best interests of the client and their family in mind. At the conclusion of the conference, Commissioners may decide that no action is necessary, reprimand the client, encourage the client to enter into a Family Responsibilities Agreement (FRA), direct the client to relevant community support services or place the client on a Conditional Income Management (CIM) order.

The key difference between this Income Management Program and the blanket roll out of income management that is being discussed at the moment, for example in Hinkler; is that the community owns and runs the program.

In the Senate Committee Hearing it was noted regarding ACOSS’ conclusion:

For example, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has acknowledged that the Cape York model of income management was not imposed by the government but was developed by the affected communities and that the FRC plays a unique role in case management, assessment and only refers individuals to income management as a last resort.

Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs

senate committees

The Community Affairs portfolio coverage includes Health and Social Services (including Human Services).

The Committee convened to consider the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Queensland Commission Income Management Regime) Bill 2017 [Provisions] on 22nd June 2017.

Committee Members

Senate Committees include representatives from various parties.

Chair, Senator Jonathon Duniam Tasmania, LP
Deputy Chair 
Senator Rachel Siewert, Western Australia, AG;

Members
Linda Reynolds (Senator) Western Australia, LP
The Hon Lisa Singh (Senator) Tasmania, ALP
Dean Smith (Senator) Western Australia, LP
Murray Watt (Senator) Queensland, ALP

Legislative Scrutiny

Other Committees also report through Committee in regards to the Bill.  The Scrutiny of Bills Committee had no comment on the Bill.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights made comment on the Bill. They noted that income management limits equality and non-discrimination, the right to privacy and family. They noted that the Cape York Reforms are different to the Northern Territory’s income management.

The Human Rights Committee also noted:

Notwithstanding this, the human rights committee noted that the application of income management in Cape York may be compulsory rather than voluntary and therefore drew the Parliament’s attention to the human rights implications identified in the 2016 Review of Stronger Futures Measures report.

An excerpt from the Stronger Future Measures Report states:

A human rights compliant approach requires that any measures must be effective, subject to monitoring and review and genuinely tailored to the needs and wishes of the local community. The current approach to income management falls short of this standard.

Consideration of Submissions Received

The Committee received seven submissions and all submitters supported the Bill and extension of the reforms to 2019. The Committee heard through submissions that the crucial role the FRC’s play in the reforms and the community, the increase in school attendance and child well-being, including better nourishment, were some of the main drivers behind continuing the reforms.

Extension to the Reforms

Since 2007, Cape York Communities have extended income management four times.  A crucial aspect is, under the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 (Cth) only the FRC can impose income management on an individual.

The Bamanga Bubu Ngadimunku Aboriginal Corporation supported the extension:

When the time does come, the people of Mossman Gorge need to be empowered to drive what happens next so that we can stay on this road of positive change. The government can’t just suddenly decide to end Income Management and the FRC, without letting us plan so that we keep going forwards and don’t go backwards after making such hard won gains.

Income Management

The Committee considered the component of income management as a key measure in the Bill.  In addition to ACOSS’ comment above, all submitters agreed income management should continue.

This is not rolled out across all of Cape York. The submitters impressed that it only applies to at-risk individuals in communities as determined by the FRC.

Also, the FRC noted that individuals lose the right to ‘choice’ however, it is the FRC’s view that the benefits outweighed this. 

The Department of Social Services also agreed with the Bill and advised that a previous review of the reforms showed that 78% of individuals surveyed agreed that it had improved their lives.

The Committee recommended the Bill to be passed.

A Significant Bill

The Liberal National Coalition Government is pushing to roll out income management in more trial areas.There is an active protest against income management in the communities of Ceduna and Hinkler. The community I live in, Rockhampton, QLD has had income management in the form of the Basic’s card for some period of time now. However, this does not work the same as the Cape York Reforms. Instead, Centrelink determines who is income managed.

I felt that this is a significant Bill to include in this series because there is a variety of contemporary opinion regarding income management. In addition, as a regional Queenslander, I also think it is important to promote the positive work community organisations do in regional and rural communities. Unfortunately, this is largely unrecognised by the wider media.

Political Positions

The other reason is this can also clarify the position of at least three political parties. The Liberal and National Coalition, Australian Labor and the Australian Greens, all have different positions on income management. 

The Coalition Government is clear they want a blanket roll out of income management. In short, they are keen to implement cashless welfare widely. However, not in the same manner as the Cape York Reforms, but as a Government controlled and imposed measure.

Labor‘s position is that they do not support a blanket roll out of cashless welfare. However, as clarified by Senator Gallagher, they will work with communities that say they want cashless welfare, such as this program.

In contrast to the Coalition, Labor will not support cashless welfare in communities where community members do not want cashless welfare.

Whereas, the Greens oppose all forms of cashless welfare. This includes opposition to programs such as the Cape York Reforms.

A few weeks ago, the Australian Greens misrepresented Labor and implied Labor supported cashless welfare and voted down a Greens motion to stop it.  This erupted into quite a massive social media furore of attack after attack towards Labor.  I clarified Labor’s position, as per above, here.

Australian Greens’ Dissenting Report

The only opposition to the Bill within the Committee was from the Australian Greens. The Green’s reported to the Senate Committee that they have opposed this measure since it was implemented by the Howard Government. Therefore, they do not support this Bill.

One reason was that they believe it is not right for some people to have to conform to ‘somebody’s version’ of social norms. and this “promotes the idea that disadvantage is primarily a result of the individual’s failure to demonstrate the necessary social values and norms.”

I find it very confusing how the Greens argue that this is “somebody’s version’ of social norms. Clearly, from its inception, the people of the Cape York communities are the people who defined the social norms. Also, it is noted that a key success is that the communities own and drive this reform.

Apples and Oranges

The Cape York program of income management is different to other income management programs in Australia.

A recurring theme is that these reforms are viewed as a temporary measure. In addition, some argue that income management is another form of dependence.

Importantly, there is a long term view for communities to work together to the next stage beyond income management.

While income management has had a positive influence on Cape York communities, submitters acknowledged that it would be some time until it could be removed and that more progress could be made.

Discussions surrounding income management should take into account that there are different models. Models such as the Cape York reforms are supported by the community as well as by the people who have their welfare quarantined.

Anti-cashless welfare advocates (of which I am one), should acknowledge that every community is different. In addition, this is largely an Indigenous reform. However, every Indigenous person is also an individual. The commissioner’s approach to individual rights is especially relevant. 

Governments should note that a macro-view one size fits all approach of imposing income management on groups in a blanket fashion does remove agency and choice. Government regulated and forced income management is destabilising and stigmatising without the drivers of community and participant support.

Originally published on The Red Window

17 comments

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  1. Terry2

    An article with many thoughtful and challenging aspects.

    As I read this I couldn’t help thinking of Aboriginal artist Kathleen Ngale living in Camel Camp in the Utopia homelands. She is living rough on a mattress outdoors, unable to walk and by all reports totally neglected by family and the community. What I thought is happening to her pension, is that being humbugged by family ?

    Family responsibility and Income Management are very much issues requiring further discussion.

  2. Michael Taylor

    Instead, Centrelink determines who is income managed.

    That bothers me. I’ve worked with (not for) Centrelink on policy and social security legislation. They are incompetent and incapable. This should not be in their hands.

    I wonder if the decisions are made following community consultation. Even if it is, it is open to abuse at the community level. “I don’t like Tom. I’ll tell Centrelink that Tom needs to be Income managed”.

  3. townsvilleblog

    Trish, I am too angry to comment on your insightful article.

  4. Aussie Pride

    Great idea. You should be the first one to be on it.

    We’ll tell you where you can eat, what you can eat, who you can buy from, what you are allowed to buy, all in a political idealism that promotes free will and individual ability to build & create their own wealth; and if you don’t like it, we will restrain you’re income until you do as we have ordered or you can just go and starve or kill yourself. Fabulous idea! I’m all for it.

    Why not, we have removed every other civil right for the individual, based on the elitism assumption that we know better and have the right to overlord someone else. We’ve created a work for the dole fake program that enforces slave labor and the right to abuse the disempowered. What could possibly go wrong?

    We could help balance the budget by removing all legal aid and the right to protest too. I mean, obviously we no longer support freedom, so why bother with such trivial matters.

    Better yet let’s stop the poor from breeding. Can’t pay for you’re children, no right to breed. Wealthy only get to breed. Let’s think ahead. As poverty and welfare dependency is intergenerational, let’s make a rule to just have all poor people desexed, like our beloved pets..i mean it’s only responsible planning right?

    Why stop there, the disabled are a drag on the economy, let’s kindly put them all to sleep and out of their misery. No need for the bothersome and costly NDIS.

    In the interests of the advancement of the human race in all it’s glory, we should probably be prudently planning to wipe out anybody with an IQ lower than 120 also.

    Ah and as i get to make up all the rules as i go along, because you know, i’ve decided i’m better than you, so’ i am born to rule’, and i own all the property space on the monopoly board, i’ve just made a rule that you are no longer fit to have an opinion or think for yourself, so line up with the others for you’re free euthanised civil liberty passport to nirvana.

    Jesus christ, what the fu*k is our society thinking? ( i hope you know this is extreme sarcasm)

  5. Freethinker

    I am the same townsvilleblog, some times is to much to handle the injustices the we see day after day.

  6. Freethinker

    Trish, I have no intention to hijacking your article, I think that this news also touch what you are writing but then again I can be wrong

    Quote:Participants in a work-for-the-dole program that overwhelmingly targets Indigenous people are 27 times more likely to be penalised by loss of income than those on another similar program, an analysis by the Australian National University has found.
    Source: 300,000 fines levied on participants in remote work-for-dole program
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/15/300000-fines-levied-on-participants-in-remote-work-for-dole-program

  7. Aussie Pride

    Freethinker you are correct to note the connection between the two subjects. You can add the NeoLiberal push forcing the many disabled onto the dole, who breach the Job Network Requirements through no fault of their own. Their disability makes it damn near impossible for them to comply, so they are further punished & brutalised by threats of stop payments and fines, causing homelessness and severe trauma.

    Our government is systemically psychologically torturing it’s own citizens, the suicide rates are shocking. The mental health issues of mass anxiety, trauma & depression are skyrocketing. Now we have these delusional idiots adding the welfare card abomination to the list of abuses and the drug testing. The chatter of people not having the right to have children if they can not afford them, and women having children just to get free government assistance is rising, won’t be long before my former sarcasm becomes a frightening reality.

    The MSM & our political freeloaders, really need to pull their head in, and start calling this horror out for what it is.

  8. Michael Fairweather

    All people regardless to their back ground should be treated with respect , by giving respect we will benefit in the long term by getting respect back. Some cultures in our society have thousands of years in which to form and we cant expect to educate all of them at once.Some never, but you cant bully these people with taking their money and telling them where they can spend it and how much they can spend. The tax payers have these politicians creaming of their taxes and they are are using it just as badly as a person buying drinks and gambling, to stop this the politician should pull their heads in and stop abusing the tax payers then they can pick on other people who are misusing tax payers money. The cashless society stinks unless a person knows he needs help and asks for it.

  9. Matters Not

    unless a person knows he needs help and asks for it.

    Presumably, you are referring to the children who receive their entitlement via their parents.

    Or are the dependents never asked? Is their freedom never considered? Or don’t they matter?

    Aren’t the children also entitled to respect? If not – then why not?

  10. Kyran

    It seems to me there are two aspects to this piece.
    The first aspect is the notion that income management is, of itself, a panacea, rather than the reality that it is no more than a band aid.
    The fundamental justification for such schemes is that those receiving the income are incapable of knowing how to spend it beyond their own short term interests, whether they be an addiction of some sort, poor judgement or just plain poor circumstances. To restrict their income without offering adequate support services or addressing the availability of the ‘vices’ is nonsensical. There seems no end to the belittlement, the demeaning, the rubbishing of the recipients when there is nary a word said about curtailing the providers of the grog, the pokies, the drugs, or any of the other vices. Surely, a far more rational approach would be to restrict the providers and support the recipients? The provision of adequate housing stocks, medical facilities, schools and other support services is simply too hard, apparently.
    To attempt such a measure by piss farting around with these very expensive to administer schemes, overseen by Centrelink and private companies, is nothing more than an exercise in futility, devoid of any intent other than exacerbating the problems whilst rewarding the causes.
    Notwithstanding the politics of trialling it in largely indigenous communities, presumably to soften up those who will be subject to such schemes in the future, which is nothing other than racist.
    The second aspect is best approached through addressing Noel Pearson’s role over many decades, as it is emblematic of our First People’s representation.
    We had ATSIC from 1990 to 2004. There was a good summary in ‘Learning from ATSIC’, written in 2010.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-01-06/27934

    ATSIC was replaced with the ‘National Indigenous Council’ from 2004 to 2007. The Cape York Institute was the successor from 2007. All of the bodies have been frequently described as ‘white’ constructs to represent our First People, devoid of any meaningful representation (election), staffed by government appointments. And Noel Pearson has been a party to all of them.
    His politics is more entwined with ‘white’ Australia and ‘assimilation’ than advocacy and representation.

    “But he does not mention his own hypocrisy in paving the way for the Northern Territory intervention, which required the Howard government to bypass the RDA to pass racist laws without free, prior and informed consent from those it would affect.”

    “So why didn’t Pearson speak up against those discriminations when he was the only Aboriginal leader given any notice of the NT intervention, the most discriminatory piece of legislation in living memory, one plank of which – compulsory income management – was loosely based on his own welfare reform trials in Cape York? Reform trials, it’s worth noting, which were introduced by Pearson without the informed consent of his own people.”

    https://newmatilda.com/2014/11/10/noel-pearson-i-have-another-dream-thankfully-its-hour-shorter/

    Whilst his ‘Light on the Hill’ dissertation (delivered in 2000) was inspiring in many ways, it was also worrying. He used the best of it to justify the worst of it. It was also where he first announced his ‘passive welfare’ ideology.

    http://australianpolitics.com/2000/08/12/noel-pearson-the-light-on-the-hill.html

    The ‘Uluru statement’ asks for their voices to be heard. Yet Noel Pearson’s is all we seem to hear.
    Thank you Ms Corry and commenters. Take care

  11. Kaye Lee

    “For improvement to occur, complementary policies and multicomponent approaches are required over a period of time. This report recommends caution on the use of income management for Aboriginal children and their communities and supports alternative programs that have an established evidence base, such as Nurse Family Partnership, The Incredible Years, Multisystemic Therapy, SafeCare and Triple-P. ”

    http://www.aboriginalaffairs.nsw.gov.au/pdfs/research-and-evaluation/TAB-A-Alternatives-to-IM-Report_FINAL.pdf

  12. Matters Not

    For improvement to occur, complementary policies and multicomponent approaches are required over a period of time.

    Who could argue with that? But this period of time ‘escape clause’ doesn’t help children in the here and now. It’s in the same category as the new version of Gonksi which will narrow (but not eliminate) the funding gap in a decade or so. Promises, promises, promises.

    Good policy must consider the ‘Grand Theory’ – defined in terms of highly abstract theorizing – as advocated here by the Social Policy Research Centre 2016 (and Prepared for: Aboriginal Affairs, NSW Department of Education – shakes head vigorously – re conflict of interest and getting what you pay for) and the here and now ’emergency’.

    The ‘problem’ is multi faceted and so must be the Policy Responses.

  13. jim

    The Liberal National Party (‘LNP’) welfare card program is really a LNP rort for the benefit of the Liberal and National Parties and their members, donors and supporters. Indue Pty. Ltd, the corporation awarded the contract to manage the welfare card program and to operate its underlying systems, is a corporation owned by Liberal and National Party members and that donates to the Liberal and National Parties. The Former Chairman of Indue is none other than former LNP MP Larry Anthony who is the son of former Liberal Country Party Deputy Prime Minister Doug Anthony.

    Other companies now owned by Larry Anthony, or by the corporate trustee of his family trust, Illalangi Pty Ltd, work under ‘sub’ contracts for Indue itself and make their profits from dealings with Indue in the course of Indue performing its contracts with the Government.

    These corporations are SAS Consulting Group Pty Ltd – a political lobbying group that counts Indue as a client – and Unidap Solutions Pty Ltd – an electronic digital IT services corporation that provides Indue, and the current LNP Government directly, with various IT services.

    This network of corporations and trusts is standard practice for those wishing to conceal their involvement in an enterprise or operation and is often engaged to shield a person’s involvement in an enterprise.

    This is the real purpose of the LNP determination to adopt and expand the welfare card program, that is, to obtain donations for the financially stressed LNP. The Liberals had significant amounts withheld from them by various Australian electoral commissions in 2016 due to their failure to properly report the political donations they received. The Liberals have shown a propensity to manipulate electoral donation laws as their recent dealings with the various electoral commissions in ‘the ‘Sinodinos Affair’ and Joe Hockey’s ‘North Sydney Forum Affair’ indicate.

    Likewise previous Liberal scandals involving tax payers money being used to attract donations to the Liberal Party include Turnbull’s $10 million tax payer funded grant for donation in the Rainmaker deal with a member of his own Wentworth Forum and John Howard’s and Julie Bishop’s involvement with the Austrade grant and donations deal in the Firepower affair. More recently we have seen the Liberals embroiled in electoral allowance scams which evinces a flagrant disregard for proper management of and accountability for public financial resources under their stewardship.

    Moreover, it is common knowledge that the Liberals also need to repay their current parliamentary leader, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the $1.8 million he loaned to them for the 2016 election campaign – not to mention other loan amounts he has advanced to them in the past. It is reported that the Liberal Party is in debt to the tune of approximately $39 million.
    Consider these facts.

    The welfare card program does not produce savings for the government but adds another level of administrative bureaucracy and cost on top of the welfare payments system.

    In fact, the new look Welfare Card, which is a revamp of the former Basics Card, costs upwards of $4,000 person to implement and manage and the previous Basics Card cost $6000 per person. That is, for every person compelled to use the card the Government will also pay Indue upward of $4,000 each. That’s $4,000 that could have been spent on that person directly or as a contribution toward the provision of services to communities with health, educational and employment needs or on reducing the alleged government debt. If every person receiving unemployment benefits were placed on the welfare card the cost to the tax payer of the administration of the card alone, not including the actual welfare payments made, would be approximately $3.2 billion more than the cost of the current payment system.

    That money will be paid to Indue, or to any other private card provider or crony of the LNP Government that it wants to lavish with public funds, but not to those in need. That is $3.2 billion that could have been used to reduce the budget deficit or spent on health, education and work programs for all Australians.

    And then we have othe vultures,like Mr Hooper a long time Senior public servant for Department of Employment gets the position of General manger of Strategy with Max Solutions shortly before Max Solutions is awarded an $800 Million contract.
    https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2817-right-wing-governments-increase-suicide-rates/ now why is this.

  14. Aussie Pride

    Found this little piece, thought you might be interested. Government dept sending around emails to staff for training program for how to ‘deal with the monkey’s in public housing’… yep.. you heard it right ..’MONKEYS’. For those who are a little slow minded. This is a racist attitude or at the very least an appalling one about indigenous or low income welfare people in public housing & it’s coming from government authority staff !!

    Reports say the guy is being ‘re-trained’.. Oh please.. Sack the basta*rd!!! This is our government???

    https://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/news/fury-public-housing-tenants-compared-monkeys/3199822/

  15. Trish Corry

    The public sector have very intense inductions, including diversity, code of conduct and Cultural awareness programs. The level the staff would be and the fact that this is the unit who organise the same inductions well this is highly unacceptable. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Matters Not

    jim – sorry but you are repeating bullshit.

    welfare card program is really a LNP rort for the benefit of the Liberal and National Parties and their members, donors and supporters

    The ‘evidence’ is? Surely not:

    Indue Pty. Ltd, … is a corporation owned by Liberal and National Party members and that donates to the Liberal and National Parties

    Again where is the evidence? Just one link that shows some evidence of donations? Shouldn’t be too hard. But you do go on repeating complete ‘untruths’.

    The Former Chairman of Indue is none other than former LNP MP Larry Anthony

    Fact is Larry Anthony was never Chairman of Indue. Why don’t you do some homework? Do some research.

    I won’t go on. All you have done is repeated nonsense that has been discarded by serious commentators some time ago.

    It’s ‘fake news’ and you have been sucked in. Don’t feel guilty. Just apologise – but only after you’ve done some research.

  17. Aussie Pride

    You’re welcome Trish. You guys do a great job. We appreciate all you’re fine work.

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