MP Kirsten Livermore.
MP Kirsten Livermore.

Law changes help 'battlers'

STRUGGLING parents in Rockhampton may soon be forced to quarantine some of their Centrelink payments, with changes to social security legislation passing a new milestone in Federal Parliament this week.

The proposed changes aim to improve living conditions for up to 1000 Rockhampton Regional Council residents from struggling families and help children facing neglect and abuse in the region.

Member for Capricornia Kirsten Livermore was involved in getting the changes to apply in Rockhampton, which the Federal Government last year deemed one of Australia's most disadvantaged communities, with an unemployment rate 2% higher than the national average of 4.9%.

The Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Income Support and Other Measures) Bill 2012 passed its third reading in the House of Representatives late on Wednesday.

Ms Livermore said in Parliament: "The bill specifically identifies Rockhampton as one of the communities where income management of welfare payments can be invoked by Centrelink to assist people in meeting their responsibilities as parents and job seekers.

"We do not want to see people being left behind at a time when our region is experiencing economic growth.

"To start with, income management will apply to three groups of people: those referred by child protection authorities when a child is considered at risk of neglect; people assessed by Centrelink social workers as being vulnerable to financial crisis and people who volunteer for income management as a way of managing their budget to meet their basic needs."

The changes come after similar income management reforms were imposed in the Northern Territory, and in disadvantaged areas in Perth, Western Australia.

Ms Livermore said: "The evaluations there showed measurable improvements in school attendance, increases in the amount of money being spent on fresh food and corresponding decreases in spending on alcohol and gambling."

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