How effective is conditional welfare support for enhancing child wellbeing? An examination of compulsory income management (welfare payment quarantining) in Australia

Steven Roche, Philip Mendes, Greg Marston, Michelle Peterie, Shelley Bielefeld, Zoe Staines, Louise Humpage

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Conditional welfare, a social policy mechanism in which disadvantaged groups are required to conform to behavioural changes to receive income support, has become an influential policy mechanism in recent decades. Conditional welfare in Australia involves compulsory income management (CIM), comprising the quarantining of between 50 and 90 per cent of a participant's welfare payment for use on food, rent and other essential items. A major objective of all Australian income management (IM) programs since 2007 has been to enhance children's wellbeing by protecting them from harm caused by anti-social behaviour such as alcohol and drug abuse, and ensuring they have access to basic needs such as food, education and health care. To explore the outcomes of these objectives, this qualitative study explores the views of both compulsory and voluntary IM participants as well as community stakeholders in relation to child wellbeing in four IM locations across Australia. It finds minimal evidence to support the view that IM contributes to positive outcomes in children's welfare.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106254
Number of pages11
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Cashless debit card
  • Children
  • Conditional welfare
  • Income management
  • Poverty
  • Social policy

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