13.1 ‘Income management’ is an arrangement under the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 (Cth) by which a proportion of a person’s social security and family payments is quarantined to be spent only on particular goods and services, such as food, housing, clothing, education and health care.

13.2 This chapter discusses the relevance of family violence to income management measures and the treatment of family violence in the income management of welfare payments under the Social Security (Administration) Act. The chapter briefly explains the nature and the history of income management regime and how income management may be improved to work to protect the safety of people experiencing family violence. By way of comparison, the income management model in the Family Responsibilities Commission Act 2008 (Qld) is discussed.

13.3 In particular, this chapter examines the implications of family violence for how individuals may become subject to, or obtain exemptions from, the application of the income management regime; and the consequences of income management for people experiencing family violence.

13.4 The ALRC concludes that the complexity of family violence and the intertwining of family violence in a number of the ‘vulnerability indicators’ that trigger the imposition of compulsory income management leads to serious questions about whether it is an appropriate response. The ALRC proposes that there should be a flexible and voluntary form of income management offered to people experiencing family violence to ensure that the complex needs of victims are provided for and their safety protected.

13.5 The ALRC also proposes a review of the voluntary income management measures and streams to provide welfare recipients experiencing family violence with a flexible opt-in and opt-out measure.