Local Aboriginal groups, migrant organisations and community workers are coming together in Bankstown to stand up against Income Management (IM), set to be introduced in the Western Sydney suburb in July 2012.
Bankstown is one of five new IM “trial sites” announced in the federal budget. Anyone on IM has 50 per cent of their Centrelink payments “quarantined” onto a BasicsCard, which can only be used to buy “priority items” at government approved stores.
More than 60 people attended a Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) lunch time forum in Bankstown on June 20 to hear about the hardship and discrimination suffered by Aboriginal communities forced onto IM under the Northern Territory Intervention.
Kate Wrigley from the Welfare Rights Centre explained that while IM will not have the same mass, blanket application in Bankstown as it does in the NT, people referred by Child Protection authorities or deemed “vulnerable to financial crisis” would still be forced onto the system against their will. The estimated cost of the scheme in the “trial sites” is $4600 per person per year.
A new Bankstown based coalition formed out of the meeting and is already distributing fact sheets, planning a day of action and seeking endorsements for a public statement, “Say No to Income Management—not in the NT, Not in Bankstown, Not Anywhere”.
There are participants from a range of local organisations including the Arab Council of Australia, the Migrant Resource Centre and the Bankstown Area Multicultural Network.
A strong delegation from Bankstown, including a bus from the Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council, led a march through Sydney on June 25 against the NT Intervention and the expansion of Income Management.
Gandangara CEO Jack Johnson told the protest that the local Aboriginal community was strong, well organised and ready to fight the policy head on: “Let them come. This is the place they will meet their Waterloo”.
By Paddy Gibson