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Keywords:

  • income management;
  • evaluations;
  • community consultations;
  • income security;
  • Australia

The introduction of income management – sometimes called welfare quarantining – for subgroups of Australian income security recipients within the Northern Territory, and subsequently a number of other trial sites, has provoked considerable contention. The present study critically examined the arguments and evidence presented in favour of income management with particular reference to the guidelines, methodology and findings of official evaluations conducted by the Commonwealth Government. We identified five key issues that do not seem to be adequately addressed by official evaluations: choice and control, the quality of decision making, consultation with local community members, structural disadvantage and economic cost. We used these concepts to develop a proposed alternative model for assessing the impact of income management on local communities.