The old parties have today united in the Senate to vote in favour of extending the unproven income management regime to some of Australia's most vulnerable people.
The Government can expand income management at will through powers contained in the Stronger Futures legislation, which passed last year, again with the support Tony Abbott's Coalition.
"I moved to disallow this latest expansion in the Senate because of the serious implications it has for young, vulnerable people," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on families and community services said today.
"Without the Greens in the Senate, the old parties would have been able to expand the net of income management without any Parliamentary scrutiny.
"Today's vote means young people living in income management trial sites, including young people who are unable to live at home because of physical or sexual abuse, can have parts of their income quarantined.
"This creates an even harder situation for vulnerable young people who, more than anything, need security and support. I have serious concerns about policies which create any level of deterrent or barrier to a person reporting serious issues like domestic violence or financial problems, out of concern that they will be subject to income management.
"Just yesterday, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights reported on Stronger Futures, including the income management provision. The report found that there was evidence of ‘equally significant adverse aspects' to counter any benefits of the regime. The Committee also noted the fact that income management intrudes on personal freedom and autonomy.
"Only the Greens have taken a stand about this issue in Parliament and called Labor and Tony Abbott's Coalition to account for their positions. Rather than adding to the pressures being faced by vulnerable people, the Greens are offering costed policies to increase payments such as Newstart and Youth Allowance by $50 per week.
"We will continue to hold the old parties to account for their support of this unfair, expensive and ineffective policy," Senator Siewert concluded.
Paddy Gibson is a Senior Researcher with the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at UTS said today that young people in the NT have suffered enormously from income management.
"Now marginalised youth in Bankstown are also set to be punished at an astronomical administrative cost of between $4500-$7800 per person per year on income management. From Bankstown to the bush we will continue to campaign for funding to be redirected from income management
to badly needed for support services and job opportunities for youth who are struggling".
"Six years ago the government launched an Intervention in the NT which has tried to establish punishment and control as the policy framework for dealing with social disadvantage. The government's own evaluation shows overwhelming feelings of discrimination and shame. Youth suicide rates have increased 160% and reported rates of self-harm are up more than fivefold," Mr Gibson concluded.