Rocky picked for welfare crackdown

ROCKHAMPTON is one of five centres across Australia chosen for a controversial income management scheme that aims to prevent welfare abusers from spending money on cigarettes and alcohol instead of groceries for their children.

The Federal Government will spend more than $100 million as part of this year's budget extending the scheme to regional areas including Shepparton, Rockhampton and Logan.

The scheme has been used since June 2007 in the Northern Territory in indigenous communities.

Under the scheme parents referred by state child protection authorities or people assessed as vulnerable to financial crisis by Centrelink workers may have up to 70% of their income support reserved for spending on essential items such as groceries.

This means they will be provided with a smart card that cannot be spent on alcohol, tobacco, pornographic or gambling goods and activities.

Late last night Member for Capricornia Kirsten Livermore said the reforms were “trying to break the cycle of disadvantage”.

Ms Livermore said she had lobbied Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Families Jenny Macklin for income management to be part of welfare reform in Rockhampton.

She said it had been a proven success in the Northern Territory where it had helped to reduce the amount of money spent on alcohol. She said she hoped the program would be up and running by early next year.

The scheme will be run in the Rockhampton Regional Council area which includes Mount Morgan, Gracemere, Yeppoon and Emu Park.

The Morning Bulletin will have a comprehensive report on other initiatives in this budget in tomorrow's edition



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