The Australian Greens have called on the Government to immediately back down from plans to implement a healthy welfare card, with the Evaluating New Income Management in the Northern Territory report showing the regime has failed to meet its objectives.
"I find it incredible that the Government has had The Evaluating New Income Management in the Northern Territory report for nearly two months, yet the Minister hasn't read it despite the Government advocating the healthy welfare card," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.
"The Healthy Welfare Card is income management on steroids. This evaluation appears to be another in a series of reports that indicate income management is ineffective.
"It sounds like this is a damning report for the Government.
"Researchers involved in the evaluation have confirmed that income management doesn't meet its objectives and that the way people manage money is not changing. Issues such as school attendance, alcohol consumption and better nutrition are not improving.
"What more evidence does the Government need about the failures of punitive, top-down policies?
"During Senate Estimates, it was confirmed to me that the draft evaluation was seen during the Forrest Review process. I'm deeply concerned that despite this evidence, the review strongly supports a healthy welfare card. It is unbelievable, given what is reportedly in the evaluation, that the Government is so committed to the healthy welfare card.
"Income management has been a wasteful, ineffective exercise under the last three Federal Governments. Millions of dollars have been thrown away because Governments have failed to listen to the community and listen to the evidence.
"Income management and plans for a healthy welfare card should be abandoned as a matter of urgency. The Government should work on collaborative, community driven policies to target the underlying causes of disadvantage, rather than remaining committed to bad policies.
"The Minister should read and release the full evaluation report immediately," Senator Siewert concluded.