Chapter 7 Outcome 3 - Community Capability and the Vulnerable

Outcome 3 at a glance

Improved capacity for vulnerable people and communities to participate economically and socially and to manage life-transitions through payments, targeted support services and community capability building initiatives.

Outcome and programs

Figure 7.1 shows the Outcome 3 program structure.

Figure 7.1 Outcome 3 programs

Figure-7.1

Highlights

Program 3.1: Financial Management

The objective of program 3.1 is to improve the financial knowledge, skills, capabilities and resilience of vulnerable individuals and families to alleviate the immediate impact of financial stress, and to coordinate a national approach to reduce problem gambling.

The program has the following components:

Financial Management Information and Assistance

The Financial Management Information and Assistance component aims to improve the financial resilience of vulnerable individuals and families through financial counselling, information and education, crisis assistance, asset-building incentives such as matched savings schemes and zero- and low-interest loans, and finding ways to minimise the impacts of problem gambling. Funding for these initiatives totalled $123 million in 2010–11.

Crisis and capability

In 2010–11, additional funds were allocated to emergency relief service providers to help them respond to increased demand as a result of the global financial crisis.

Emergency Relief Services assisted 994,719 people in 2010–11.

The Government funds money management services to provide practical and essential support to help people build longer-term capability to manage their money better and to increase financial resilience. The services, available mainly in remote locations with high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, help participants increase their confidence in managing their money, budgeting, shopping around for the best price, knowing where to go for help and developing savings goals and plans. The services also link people with financial counselling and crisis support and affordable credit products. In remote parts of the Northern Territory, the MoneyMob Talkabout mobile education unit raises awareness of money management and financial counselling services through a program of fun, engaging and culturally appropriate activities.

Financial counselling, information and education

Additional Commonwealth Financial Counselling services continued to support high demand through funding provided in 2009–10 and 2010–11 in response to the global financial crisis and natural disasters. In 2010–11, 40,935 people were assisted, including 13,740 telephone financial counselling clients.

The 1800 007 007 national financial counselling telephone hotline has helped more Australians access free financial counselling, with approximately 55 per cent of calls to the hotline number in 2010–11 coming from outside the capital cities. The Department improved the hotline by developing national policies and procedures and a complementary website. Financial counsellors continued to participate in Centrelink Job Expos and the Department worked with Financial Counselling Australia to further develop and professionalise the sector.

The National Information Centre on Retirement Investments continues to provide free information on planning and saving for retirement, including an information service on equity release and reverse mortgage products.

Financial inclusion

As part of a $50 million measure to support innovative projects for financial resilience, the Government allocated $39 million over two years for microfinance programs to help vulnerable Australians build their financial self-reliance.

The objective of these services is to assist people, particularly those on low incomes, to develop long-term practical financial skills and to increase their understanding of financial products and services.

Through this funding, the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s proven matched savings program, Saver Plus, has been made available in 60 communities nationally, and the Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service’s No Interest Loan Scheme has been expanded to over 350 communities.

Funding of $6 million was provided in 2011 to five community development financial institutions. These organisations provide microfinance and microenterprise loans and financial literacy to marginalised Australians who are not able to access mainstream financial services, including Indigenous Australians and low-income individuals.

Supporting people participating in income management

Financial management support services are assisting vulnerable individuals and families in urban, regional and remote locations in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland.

Financial management support ranges from basic advocacy and assistance with financial matters to practical financial capability education, crisis support and access to financial counselling.

The services help to build practical financial literacy skills and knowledge, link people to affordable and safe credit, increase understanding of consumer rights, and help people deal with immediate financial crisis and complex financial stress. Services include the Approved Money Management Course, which is one of the eligibility requirements for the income management matched savings payment initiative.

Problem gambling

The Government is continuing to work with state and territory governments to develop a national approach to reduce problem gambling and is committed to introducing a full pre-commitment system on electronic gaming machines, starting in 2014, introducing dynamic warnings and cost-of-play displays on the machines, and restricting ATM daily withdrawal limits in gaming venues to $250 (excluding casinos).

The Government is also continuing to work with state and territory governments to expand the evidence base for problem gambling. The Department provided funding to Gambling Research Australia to commission national research into problem gambling. Gambling Research Australia is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments.

The Department also funded the evaluation of voluntary pre-commitment trials in South Australia, and the evaluation of the Gambling Help Online website (www.gamblinghelponline.org.au), which is jointly funded by state and territory governments.

Income Management

Income Management aims to assist families and individuals to budget and protect and provide for themselves and their children. It ensures that money is available for essentials, such as food, rent, clothing and utilities, and limits expenditure on excluded items, such as alcohol, tobacco, pornography and gambling.

Income Management offers a budgeting tool by directing a percentage of a person’s welfare payments towards their own priority needs and those of their children and families. This helps to ensure that:

Income management in Cape York

Income Management in Cape York is facilitated through the Queensland Government’s Family Responsibilities Commission (FRC). The primary purpose of the FRC is to hold conferences, so local people can sit down to talk together about what is going wrong and what can be done to improve things. During conferences, the FRC talks with people about their behaviour. The FRC always tries to discuss the issues with the person and reach agreement on what should happen next.

The FRC considers each person’s particular circumstances and the final approach adopted depends on how the person responds. Upon receiving a notification of a breach of social obligation, the main approaches used by the FRC to increase personal responsibility are:

Income management in the Northern Territory

Income Management was first introduced in 2007 as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER). The initial rollout of Income Management only affected people who received income support or family assistance payments and who lived in 73 prescribed communities, their associated outstations and the 10 town camp regions of the Northern Territory.

A new non-discriminatory model of Income Management commenced on 9 August 2010 following the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 in June 2010. At 30 June 2011, 17,747 people (99.95 per cent) had either transitioned to the new Income Management system or had exited Income Management. A total of 3,384 new people commenced Income Management.

Welfare recipients in the Territory who are not subject to compulsory Income Management can choose Voluntary Income Management. More than 8,000 people who had been on NTER Income Management were no longer required to be income managed under the new model, and more than half of them chose Voluntary Income Management, demonstrating that many recognised the benefits of Income Management.

Child Protection Scheme of Income Management and Voluntary Income Management

The Child Protection Scheme of Income Management is in operation in metropolitan Perth and the Kimberley region in Western Australia, and across the Northern Territory. Under this measure, the state or territory child protection authority notifies Centrelink to manage a person’s income support and family assistance payments in cases where poor money management is contributing to child neglect or other negative outcomes for the child.

Voluntary Income Management is available in metropolitan Perth and the Kimberley region in Western Australia, and across the Northern Territory. It allows income support recipients to volunteer for Income Management to assist them to meet their priority needs and to learn how to manage their finances for themselves and their family in the long-term.

People on Voluntary Income Management may be eligible for a Voluntary Income Management Incentive Payment of $250. This payment is automatically paid to people for every 26 continuous weeks they remain on Voluntary Income Management. At 30 June 2011, 4,597 incentive payments had been made.

BasicsCard

The BasicsCard is a PIN-protected card that operates through the existing EFTPOS infrastructure and can be used at approved BasicsCard merchants. It provides a secure way for customers to receive their income-managed funds. At 30 June 2011, 97.4 per cent (18,103 people) of people on Income Management had an active BasicsCard. Over $156 million was spent through the BasicsCard in 2010–11, and over $330 million since the BasicsCard was introduced in 2007.

BasicsCard holders can check their BasicsCard balances at eight purpose-built kiosks, located in Darwin, Perth, Palmerston, Katherine and Alice Springs. BasicsCard holders can also check their balances using a free call number, online, and through Centrelink’s Call Centres and Customer Service Centres.

Future expansion of income management

In the 2011–12 Budget, the Government announced the expansion of targeted income management to assist vulnerable individuals and families in five disadvantaged communities: Bankstown, New South Wales; Logan, Queensland; Playford, South Australia; Rockhampton, Queensland; and Shepparton, Victoria.

Summary of performance

Table 7.1 summarises the Department’s results for program 3.1 against the key performance indicators published in the
2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 7.1 Program 3.1—key performance indicators
Key performance indicator Result
Financial Management Information and Assistance
Percentage and number of clients who have their immediate crisis needs meta

Emergency relief: 93%; 925,089

Commonwealth financial counselling: 93%; 26,889

Percentage and number of clients with increased money management knowledge and skillsb 87%; 25,134
Percentage and number of clients adhering to agreed financial management strategies to manage life transitionsc 89%; 19,215
Income Management
Amount and percentage of income-managed funds spent on priority needs Since Income Management began in mid-2007, goods or services to the value of $330 million have been purchased using the BasicsCard (based on main business activity of merchant).d
Main business activity Amount ($) Percentage
Food 244,876,870.22 74
Clothing 50,935,213.39 15
Fuel 19,169,396.10 6
Othere 15,846,118.62 5
Total 330,827,598.33 100

aDerived estimate of number of emergency relief and Commonwealth financial counselling clients assisted for 2010–11.

bDerived estimate of number of Commonwealth financial counselling clients assisted for 2010–11.

cDerived estimate of number of money management and microfinance clients assisted for 2010–11.

dThe data provided is BasicsCard expenditure only. In addition to allocating income managed funds to the BasicsCard, people allocate income managed funds to housing, including rent, School Meals Programs, child care, utilities and other priority needs and expenses.

e‘Other’ includes merchants with the main business activity of transport, household goods, second-hand goods, hardware, health, motor vehicle, education and white goods.

Table 7.2 summarises the Department’s results for program 3.1 against the deliverables published in the
2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 7.2 Program 3.1—deliverables

Deliverable Result
Financial Management Information and Assistance
Number of clients assisted through the Financial Management Program 1,049,421
Income Management
Number of people on Income Management 18,583

Table 7.3 shows the movement of funds through the Income Management Record.

Table 7.3 Program 3.1—Income Management Record

Income Management Record (Administered) 2009–10 ($’000) 2010–11 ($’000)
Balance brought forward from previous period 2,202 760
Contributions 159,608 181,429
Other receipts (returned payments from third-party organisations) 752 583
Total increase 162,562 182,012
Payments made (161,802) (181,526)
Total decrease (161,802) (181,526)
Balance carried to next period (excluding investment balances) and represented by cash held in the Official Public Account 760 1,246

Note: Appropriation is through section 123ZN of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999. The establishing instrument is section 123VA of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999. The record holds individual Centrelink entitlements and Centrelink makes payments on behalf of the individual. It is not an interest-bearing account. As of 1 July 2010, the Income Management Record replaced the Income Management Special Account. The Income Management Record is a ledger recording the movement of income-managed funds held on behalf of individuals.

Program 3.2: Community Investment

The objective of program 3.2 is to provide grants and ongoing funding to improve the responsiveness and integration of local community services to increase the participation of vulnerable people in community life.

The program has one component: Community Investment.

Under the Administrative Arrangements Order of 14 October 2010, responsibility for Volunteer Management was transferred from FaHCSIA to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Under the Administrative Arrangements Order changes on 14 October 2010, the Department’s lead Commonwealth recovery responsibilities, including activation of the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment, were transferred to the Attorney-General’s Department. The residual elements of the Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Branch were transferred to the Community Investment Branch, and FaHCSIA retained responsibility for coordinating the Commonwealth’s response to the 2009 Victorian bushfires. In January 2011, a Flood and Natural Disaster Coordination Unit was established in the Money Management Branch to coordinate the Department’s contribution to the whole-of-government recovery response to the multiple flooding and natural disaster events across Australia.

Community Investment

In 2010–11, the Government provided funding to nearly 200 not-for-profit community organisations to deliver around 220 community projects to help disadvantaged and vulnerable Australians participate in community life. These diverse projects helped strengthen communities and families, developed solutions to meet local community needs, and delivered responsive and integrated services.

The Community Support Service supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members and their families by providing links and referrals to a range of mainstream and Indigenous services, including welfare and social support, employment, family violence, health (including drug and alcohol services), housing, child care and legal services. In 2010–11, the Community Support Service provided support through 63 organisations and in 87 locations to reach more than 140 communities across Australia.

In 2010–11, seven applications were approved for entry onto the Harm Prevention Charities Register, a Commonwealth tax deductibility scheme for charities whose principal activity is to promote prevention or control of harmful behaviour, including emotional abuse, physical and sexual abuse, suicide, self-harm, substance abuse and harmful gambling. In 2010–11, 56 institutions were on the register.

More than 6,000 not-for-profit organisations across Australia benefited from Volunteer Grants 2010, supporting around 253,000 volunteers. The funding provided grants of up to $5,000 to assist with the cost of training courses and background screening checks for volunteers, purchase small equipment items, and contribute towards fuel reimbursement for volunteers who use their cars to transport others to activities, deliver food and assist people in need.

Summary of performance

Table 7.4 summarises the Department’s results for program 3.2 against the key performance indicators published in the 2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 7.4 Program 3.2—key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Result
Community Investment
Percentage and number of individuals who indicated they were satisfied with the Community Support Service 97%; 20,472
Percentage and number of individuals assisted from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds 35%; 42,297

Note: The percentage and number of individuals assisted from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds indicator is for the Community Investment Program, including the Community Support Service and Community Projects. This indicator excludes Volunteer Grants where data is not collected at the individual level.

Table 7.5 summarises the Department’s results for program 3.2 against the deliverables published in the 2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 7.5 Program 3.2—deliverables

Deliverable Result
Number of individuals assisted through the Community Investment Program 374,768
Number of individuals assisted through Volunteer Grants 253,000
Number of individuals assisted (excluding volunteers) 121,768

Note: Data for Volunteer Management is not reported because responsibility for this component was transferred to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet under the Administrative Arrangements Orders.

Program 3.3: Income Support for Vulnerable People

The objective of program 3.3 is to make payments to assist eligible people in severe financial hardship who do not have any other means of support.

Special Benefit is an income support payment for people in severe financial hardship who are not eligible for any other type of payment and who have no other means of support or capacity to earn a sufficient livelihood.

Summary of performance

Table 7.6 summarises the Department’s results for program 3.3 against the key performance indicators published in the
2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 7.6 Program 3.3—key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Result
Income Support for Vulnerable People (Special Benefit)
Percentage and number of recipients on part rate due to the means test 73.4%; 4,687
Number of recipients 6,385
Administered outlays $73.25 million
Duration on payment 111 weeks
Payment accuracy

96.35%

Confidence interval +/– 2.10%

Agreements are in place with all service providers An agreement is in place with Centrelink.
Strategies are in place to ensure that requirements are fulfilled under agreements with service delivery providers The bilateral management arrangement with Centrelink requires quarterly reports or information exchanges to ensure that all risks are being managed. Business discussions are also held on a quarterly basis with Centrelink.

Table 7.7 summarises the Department’s result for program 3.3 against the deliverable published in the 2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 7.7 Program 3.3—deliverable

Deliverable Result
Payments are made through Centrelink to eligible claimants under the provisions of social security law Payments were made as described

Program 3.4: Support for People in Special Circumstances

The objective of program 3.4 is to make payments to Australians in circumstances beyond their control to support them in overcoming those circumstances and maintaining their financial wellbeing.

The program has the following components:

Responsibility for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment was transferred to the Attorney-General’s Department under the Administrative Arrangements Orders.

Bereavement Allowance

The objective of Bereavement Allowance is to make payments for up to 14 weeks to a recently widowed person following the death of their partner to enable them to maintain an adequate standard of living during that time.

Bereavement Allowance is paid at the same rate as the adult pension and is subject to the pension income and assets test. In 2010–11, 856 people were paid Bereavement Allowance.

Payments under Special Circumstances

The objective of Payments under Special Circumstances is to help individuals and families experiencing circumstances beyond their control to recover and maintain their financial wellbeing. These payments include act of grace payments made under section 33 of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and ex gratia payments to individuals and families affected by disasters and other crises.

For example, support continues to be provided to Australians affected by the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings. FaHCSIA provided support towards personal rehabilitation including home, vehicle and work modifications to help victims transition back to normal living. The Reconnecting People Assistance Package provides ex gratia assistance to Australian citizens or permanent residents who have been adversely affected as a direct result of inappropriate immigration detention. The assistance package continues to support eligible individuals in re-establishing their lives and reconnecting with families and communities.

Summary of performance

Table 7.8 summarises the Department’s results for program 3.4 against the key performance indicators published in the
2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 7.8 Program 3.4—key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Result
Payments under Special Circumstances
Number of recipients Not provideda
Administered outlays $0.922 million
Bereavement Allowance
Number of recipients 856
Administered outlays $3.10 million
Timeliness of receipt of assistance All Bereavement Allowance claims were processed in accordance with social security law.

a        ‘Payments under Special Circumstances’ refers to assistance provided under the Department’s Bali Lifetime Rehabilitation Package. Specific data reporting on the number of recipients is not possible as the number of recipients is less than 20, which means the privacy provisions under the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 apply.

Note: Data for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is not reported because responsibility for this component was transferred to the Attorney-General’s Department under the Administrative Arrangements Orders. Expenditure reported by FaHCSIA prior to the program transfer to the Attorney-General’s Department on 14 October 2010 was approximately $10.41 million.

Table 7.9 summarises the Department’s results for program 3.4 against the deliverable published in the 2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 7.9 Program 3.4—deliverables

Deliverable Result
Payments are made through Centrelink to eligible claimants under the provisions of social security law and the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 Payments were made as described

Program 3.5: Supplementary Payments and Support for Income Support Recipients

The objective of program 3.5 is to make payments and subsidise services to certain income support recipients to assist them financially and to help them continue to participate economically and socially.

The program has the following components:

Reimbursement to Great Southern Rail for Concessional Fares

The objective of the Reimbursement to Great Southern Rail for Concessional Fares component is to reimburse Great Southern Rail for the provision of concessional fares on its services (the Indian Pacific, the Ghan and the Overland) to pensioners, certain veterans, and holders of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and state Seniors Card holders.

The Department reimburses Great Southern Rail for concessional fares on a demand-driven basis for actual concessional travel by eligible groups. The discretionary nature of the program makes it difficult to estimate numbers from year to year. In 2010–11, the Department reimbursed Great Southern Rail for 61,421 concessional journeys.

Utilities Allowance

The objective of the Utilities Allowance component is to assist certain income support recipients with utility costs such as gas and electricity.

From 20 September 2009, the value of Utilities Allowance was incorporated into the Pension Supplement as part of the Secure and Sustainable Pensions reforms. The Pension Supplement is automatically paid fortnightly to most pensioners, and certain income support recipients who have reached the qualifying age for Age Pension.

As such, the Utilities Allowance is now only paid to Disability Support Pensioners who are under 21 without children, and to Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations recipients of Widow or Partner Allowance who are under the qualifying age for Age Pension.

Summary of performance

Table 7.10 summarises the Department’s results for program 3.5 against the key performance indicators published in the
2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 7.10 Program 3.5—key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Result
Reimbursement to Great Southern Rail for Concessional Fares
Administered outlays $6.77 million
Number of recipients 42,974 passengers
Number of journeys 61,421 concessional journeys under the Government’s funding agreement with Great Southern Rail in 2010–11
Utilities Allowance
Administered outlays $13.41 million
Number of recipients Current at 30 June 2011: 23,124

Table 7.11 summarises the Department’s results for program 3.5 against the deliverables published in the 2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 7.11 Program 3.5—deliverables

Deliverable Result
Reimbursement to Great Southern Rail for Concessional Fares
Great Southern Rail is under agreement to provide concessional fares on its services to pensioners, certain veterans and holders of Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and state Seniors Card holders 100%
Utilities Allowance
Payments are made through Centrelink to eligible claimants under the provisions of social security law Payments were made as described

Outlook for Outcome 3

FaHCSIA will continue to provide support to not-for-profit organisations that aim to improve and promote the social inclusion of disadvantaged and vulnerable Australians. Funding is provided for integrated and responsive projects that address the specific needs of local communities. The Government will continue to assist not-for-profit organisations across Australia through Volunteer Grants. The funding provides grants of up to $5,000 to assist with the cost of training courses and background screening checks for volunteers, purchase small equipment items, and contribute towards fuel reimbursement for volunteers who use their cars to transport others to activities, deliver food and assist people in need.

The Department will continue to deliver financial assistance to eligible people in severe financial hardship who are not eligible for any other type of payment and who do not have any other means of support or capacity to earn a sufficient livelihood through the payment of Special Benefit.

The Department will continue to reimburse Great Southern Rail as it provides concession fares to pensioners and other eligible groups.

Utilities Allowance will continue to be paid quarterly to assist certain income support recipients with utility bills such as gas and electricity and Bereavement Allowance will continue to be available to recently widowed people to assist with financial affairs following the death of their partner.

Through the Financial Management Program, the Department will continue to fund a range of services that assist people to overcome financial adversity and achieve greater financial resilience. A temporary funding boost provided during the global financial crisis enabled emergency relief services to be enhanced by introducing case management and financial literacy education in some outlets and expanded access to financial counselling, no-interest loans and matched savings schemes. Emergency relief and financial counselling services continue to experience strong demand and additional ongoing funding of $171.9 million over four years for emergency relief, financial counselling and microfinance services was provided as part of the 2011–12 Budget. Over the next 12 months the Department will continue the focus on building longer-term capability and resilience for vulnerable individuals and families through improved access to case management, money management education and professional financial counselling. The Department will also continue to support community sector workers by funding training and professional development opportunities and other resources.

The Department will continue to work closely with Centrelink to deliver income management, which aims to ensure that people who receive welfare payments use those payments in a socially responsible way and that children and vulnerable people are protected, across all of the Northern Territory, in parts of Western Australia and in parts of Cape York in Queensland.

In addition, the Department is currently preparing to implement income management in five new sites across Australia, as announced under the Building Australia’s Future Workforce package in the 2011–12 Budget. Selected not-for-profit organisations will receive funding to provide additional financial management services in each of these locations.

The Department will continue to play a central role in addressing problem gambling and the negative impact it has on individuals, families and communities by implementing its commitment to reduce problem gambling, including the implementation of a full pre-commitment scheme for electronic gaming machines.

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