Perspectives on the ongoing impact of compulsory income management in the Northern Territory

Steven Roche, Natalie Taylor-Zach, Robert Taylor, Philip Mendes

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Abstract

Since 2007, income support recipients in the Northern Territory (NT) have been subjected to compulsory income management (CIM), a form of welfare conditionality which continues, despite the withdrawal of CIM from other locations in Australia and research that identifies negligible benefits. Implemented with the goal of improving social well-being and health outcomes, CIM quarantines a proportion of income support payments which cannot be used to purchase alcohol, gambling, pornography and in some cases tobacco, to direct payments to priority needs of recipients and encourage socially responsible behaviour. This article presents the perspectives of welfare sector stakeholders in the NT on the ongoing impact of CIM on income support recipients and their communities. It draws on semi-structured interviews with 26 participants with expertise across non-government service delivery, government, legal and advocacy sectors. The findings detail that CIM is considered ineffective in reducing social harms such as substance misuse, can contribute to situations of family violence, and exacerbates challenges for recipients living in regional and remote areas. It also highlights the poor compatibility of community income management in regional and remote contexts, its top-down design, and views that CIM is a form of social control and disempowerment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalThe Australian Journal of Social Issues
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024

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