Goldmine of data on income support improves transparency

adminSocial security rights review

Up-to-date, comprehensive and comparable information about the characteristics of people receiving social security payments is now accessible to the public with the launch of new website by the Federal Department of Social Services.

The data is updated quarterly and includes information such as the number and location of Australians on the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance and Family Tax Benefits, and a breakdown of concession and health card recipients.

According to the Government, “having this information readily available will help raise public awareness and understanding of patterns of income support across Australia.”

The available data covers a broad range of characteristics, including by:

  • main payment type;
  • age;
  • sex;
  • Indigenous status;
  • marital status;
  • electorate;
  • postcode;
  • State and Territory; and,
  • Local Government Area.

Other useful information that is now readily available includes a breakdown by the duration that people spend on individual payments, and how many people receive earnings from employment.

Income Management Summary

A recent addition to the site is a handy Income Management Summary. Available each quarter, this provides a comprehensive breakdown of who is subject to Income Management, in all the locations across Australia. It also provides a breakdown of “Place-Based Income Management”, with the numbers of people under Voluntary Income Management or the Youth Triggers. Also available is a summary of Income Management exemptions, an overview of those receiving the savings incentives, in addition is a comprehensive overview of income management review and appeals, and the outcome of appeals on Income management. The postings also include historical data on Income Management from 2011.   

Only limited data is also available on job seekers with a “partial capacity to work”. The site currently does not provide a breakdown showing the profile of single parents on Newstart Allowance (called Newstart ‘Principal Carer’), though National Welfare Rights Network (NWRN) has suggested that this information could be made available. We also suggested that the site could hold information about who gets Rent Assistance, location, payment type, and how many people are experiencing “rental stress” or “severe rental stress”.

The NWRN and Australia’s peak welfare lobby, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), along with many academics, lobbied Centrelink, the Department of Social Services, Ministers and bureaucrats from the Department of Human Services, and previous Governments for over a decade, to make this basic social security information readily available to the public.

It is a great resource and well worth a look. And please, spread the word about this useful resource!

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