Damning NT report shows income management must go

The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) released the statement below on October 1.

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STICS has renewed calls for the national income management system to be dismantled, following the release of a damning report by the NT Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services (NTCGRIS).

The report, which documents extreme waste on spending on bureaucracy, comes as the $120 million national expansion of income management is badly stalling, with few referrals and work bans on the scheme in NSW.

”This report from the NTCGRIS meticulously and completely discredits the NT intervention,” said Paddy Gibson from STICS. “Obscene amounts of money have been wasted on what it calls 'punitive' measures such as income management, while most Aboriginal people in remote areas continue to languish in extreme poverty without access to many basic services.

”The report says more than $1 billion has been spent on income management in the NT. More than $225 million has been spent on Government Business Managers to take control of community administration. In contrast, an estimated $2 billion is urgently required on top of current investments to ensure the functioning of very basic infrastructure such as sewage and water systems in remote Aboriginal communities.

”During an intervention purportedly to save children, only $65 million has been spent on early childhood programs and the vast majority of remote Aboriginal children still have no access to a preschool.

”Income management costs more than $5000 per person per year and 15,000 people are on the system in the NT. But in 2010-11, in the middle of an acute child welfare crisis, only 74 children received an intensive case-managed family support program, at a comparable cost of $6932 per child.

”There is no publicly available account for a staggering $291 million budgeted by the Commonwealth for 'governance' and 'building community governance capacity', but there is widespread evidence of systematic, crippling disempowerment of Aboriginal community leaders and organisations.”

Gibson says NT Aboriginal leaders are taking heart from the resistance to income management that is spreading around the country: “Three months into the so-called 'trial' of income management in five sites around the country, Minister Jenny Macklin only has a handful of people on the system. To our knowledge, no one in Bankstown has been put on compulsory income management.

”This is due to a strong community campaign demanding redirection of funds for income management into community based services and employment opportunities. Minister [Jenny] Macklin must immediately dismantle income management, not replicate the same ineffective, bureaucratic waste seen under the intervention.

”We congratulate the NSW Public Sector Association, whose members in child protection are refusing to refer people to the system. These workers are having to endure budget cuts affecting frontline services, while being asked to implement the expensive, unhelpful income management program.

"During my last two months traveling to NT communities, news of the community campaign in Bankstown and union ban has been enthusiastically received by Aboriginal leaders who have been fighting the intervention since 2007. They feel they are not alone. The Yolngu Nations Assembly, representing 8000 people across Arnhem Land, has sent a message of congratulation to the PSA.”

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