NT income management
An audit assessing the administration of income management reform in the Northern Territory has found it to be effective, allowing the initiative to evolve into a broader welfare policy.
effective in part
In his report, Administration of New Income Management in the Northern Territory, Auditor-General Ian McPhee said the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) had effectively managed the transition from Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) Income Management to New Income Management.
Mr McPhee said during the reform FaHCSIA had been responsible for providing policy advice while DHS oversaw the day-to-day service delivery of Income Management.
“Under Income Management, between 50 to 70 per cent of a customer’s fortnightly welfare payments, and all advance or lump sum payments, are set aside in an Income Management account to be spent on the priority needs of the customer and their family,” Mr McPhee said.
He said however the service delivery approach required for New Income Management was resource-intensive and the departments were limited in their ability to determine if the allocations towards priority needs translated to actual spending on those goods and services including food and housing.
He said DHS conducted a compliance program for third-party organisations and had also implemented a number of additional quality controls, however there was no overarching framework that outlined the approach to quality assurance.
“There would be value in DHS assessing the merits of developing an overarching quality assurance framework to support the delivery of Income Management services,” Mr McPhee said.
He said New Income Management had seen the introduction of the Voluntary Incentive Payment and Matched Savings Payment, but the take-up had been significantly lower than expected.
“This suggests that the payment is not having the intended impact on savings behaviour,” he said.
“There would be value in FaHCSIA and DHS reviewing the design and impact of the payments to determine how they are contributing to the objectives of Income Management.”
The full report can be accessed at this PS News link and the audit team comprised Corinne Horton, Christine Preston, Tessa Osborne, Emilia Schiavo and Nathan Williamson.
Edition 347, 5 February 2013