Registered nurse Rachel O’Mara comments on the welfare program announced for Rockhampton this week.
Registered nurse Rachel O’Mara comments on the welfare program announced for Rockhampton this week. Chris Ison

Disadvantaged need more support

RACHEL O’Mara has worked at the coalface of social disadvantage for much of her working life.

She was in the Northern Territory working in an Aboriginal community when the “intervention” trucks rolled into town, and now works in the same field, based in Rockhampton.

A registered nurse, Mrs O’Mara said compulsory income management did not improve the lives of those people affected, because of a “bureaucracy that is not running the changes on the ground, with the people”.

But she said there could be benefits of income management, especially for those who volunteered for such programs, as it helped people manage their money and prevented relatives from manipulating their relationship and taking cash away from them.

The Federal Government expects that up to 1000 people in Rockhampton could be placed under income management as part of the reforms.

Mrs O’Mara said an unintended consequence of the reforms could be mental health issues.

She said the prospect of having not only their children taken away by child protection, but also half their incomes, could create more mental health issues.

“Many people have their children taken away by child protection, which is fair enough in many cases, but some people are in a tough position and they often just need more support,” she said.

Mrs O’Mara said it was essential support services match the impact of reforms, especially outside of office hours when many people were more vulnerable.

“Outside of those hours or on the weekend they have no where to go.”



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