Monday, September 26, 2011

No to Compulsary Income Management

John Key would like to abolish benefits for youth in New Zealand, replacing them with a drastically limited spending card. We fear that this could be a foot in the door to be eventually extended to all beneficiaries. This is already starting to happen in Australia. Radical Women explains how this works in the Northern Territory, where Indigenous people are the first target.

Income Management is founded on the theft of Aboriginal land and genocide.
Already entrenched in the Northern Territory, the government plans to broaden Income Management to five new trial sites in 2012: being Bankstown, Rockhampton, Shepparton, Logan and Playford. Let’s also be clear that the scheme has been extended to include non-Indigenous people. Amongst those recently targeted in the NT are refugee women. This is to justify that the NT Intervention Laws are in compliance with the racial Discrimination Act. What could be further from the truth?
Compulsory Income Management is taking Indigenous people backwards, not forwards. The scheme quarantines 50% of Centrelink payments. We’re seeing history repeated. This is 1788 all over again and a return to the mission days. Compulsory Income Management against vulnerable groups such as First Nations people is discriminatory. A new report published by the Equal Rights Alliance, which represents more than 50 women’s organisations, documents the viewpoints of 180 women who have come into contact with the controversial income management scheme. Women describe the difficulties and stigma of using the basics card. Amongst other things, the report quotes a domestic violence worker who stated, “Northern Territory women suffering from domestic violence would rather stay in abusive relationships than risk having their welfare payments quarantined.”
This sexist system denies women the opportunity to live independent lives. This report, which specifically focuses on the experiences of women forced to use income management, exposes as bogus Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin’s often repeated claims that income management is helping Aboriginal women and children manage their money.
What’s more, users of the scheme can buy priority items only at government approved stores. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Back to the ration days of when Indigenous people received their meager quotas of sugar and flour from government stores. Further, this seriously impedes mobility for Indigenous people living in remote communities who have to travel miles to the nearby store. Indigenous people are being herded like cattle into the cities, away from their ancestral lands and sacred sites. Income management also discourages mutual aid and small business enterprises of Indigenous people, leaving them powerless and refugees in their own country.
Radical Women, an autonomous socialist feminist organisation committed to building women’s leadership, is campaigning against this genocidal and paternalistic measure by supporting a petition to the Senate initiated by a group in Bankstown. Please drop into the Solidarity Salon at 580 Sydney Road, Brunswick, where you can sign this very important petition that is being circulated. The petition calls for a moratorium on income management. It is absolutely essential that we stop this paternalistic scheme.
Marisa Sposaro

For more information, call Australia 03-9388-0062 or email
Freedom Socialist Organiser # 7, October 2011

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