Abstract: Since November 2008, the Australian Government has implemented a trial of two separate measures of income management (IM) in the Kimberley region and metropolitan area of Perth in Western Australia (WA). The two measures of IM that are being trialled are: - Child Protection Scheme of Income Management (CPSIM); and - Voluntary Income Management (VIM). ORIMA Research was commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) to conduct an evaluation of the trials of IM in WA. The three overarching research objectives of the evaluation were to: - assess the impact of income management in improving child wellbeing; - assess the impact of income management on financial capability of individuals; and - assess the effectiveness of implementation. The evaluation found that CPSIM and VIM were effective measures in helping people meet their priority needs and those of their children. Evidence provided by IM clients, Centrelink staff, DCP staff, financial counsellors, money management advisers, welfare/community organisations and community leaders was consistent and indicated that both measures had delivered significant positive impacts in relation to child and family wellbeing. The evaluation found some evidence of a positive impact of the measures on the financial management capabilities of participants, but this was not as conclusive as the evidence in relation to child and family wellbeing. Further information on the longer-term experience of former clients is necessary before definitive conclusions can be reached. The evaluation found that a constraint on the effectiveness of VIM and CPSIM in relation to improving participants’ financial management capabilities was a low take-up rate among IM clients of the financial counselling and money management advisory services provided under the measures. Consistent with this finding, a longer-term risk around the IM programs identified by stakeholders was that some IM clients may become dependent on the system and not take personal responsibility because of the view that their money is being managed for them. The evaluation found that, overall, the CPSIM and VIM trials were implemented effectively. After some initial delays, take-up of places in the IM trials matched planned levels. The BasicsCard was effectively implemented in WA, with almost 600 merchants accepting BasicsCard payments at 30 April 2010. The working relationship between Centrelink and DCP in the implementation of the CPSIM trial was effective. Financial management advisory services were useful to CPSIM and VIM clients who had accessed them. However, the evaluation found that there was limited understanding of key features of CPSIM and VIM among clients. The evidence indicated that better communication of these features by DCP and Centrelink could have improved client understanding and outcomes. Lack of awareness among clients of financial counselling and money management advisory services was a particularly important limitation. One change that occurred towards the end of the trial period being evaluated was the decrease in the ratio of income managed funds of VIM clients from 70% to 50%. The evaluation found that this has caused difficulty for some existing VIM clients, with some clients choosing to exit VIM because the 50% was no longer enough to cover their priority needs (especially rent in metropolitan areas of Perth). It is too early to assess whether this change has encouraged more people to take-up VIM.
Notes: prepared by ORIMA Research
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs,, 2010, Evaluation of the Child Protection Scheme of Income Management and Voluntary Income Management Measures in Western Australia, Report, viewed 09 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3325.