That We Should Abolish Welfare Quarantining

That We Should Abolish Welfare Quarantining

That we should abolish welfare quarantining

B Grade – Round Two

Welfare quarantining (also known as income management) is a system which limits the types of goods and services that welfare payments received from the Government can be spent on. Welfare quarantining was implemented in Indigenous Communities in the Northern Territory as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response under the Howard government. Under current welfare quarantining between 50-70% of a person’s income support payment is placed onto a ‘BasicsCard’ which can only be used at specific shops to purchase specific things, with the purchase of non-essential items such as alcohol or cigarettes not being permitted. Since this time proposals to expand welfare quarantining have been discussed.

Advocates of income management argue that the system ensures welfare recipients have money to pay for essentials such as food and rent. They suggest that welfare is paid to help individuals (and especially families with children) afford the basics and rather than to fund non-essential purchases. Additionally, welfare quarantining aims to reduce social problems such as alcohol fuelled violence and health problems in remote communities.

Critics of income management argue that the system is ineffective. Not only may Welfare recipients find ways to trade their points or coupons for the goods they wish to purchase, but limiting the BasicsCard to the purchase of only some goods allows food providers in remote communities to charge exorbitant prices for these goods, as there are often few options as to where to shop. Critics further argue that the system is discriminatory and unfair.


  • What social problems does welfare quarantining aim to address? Does it achieve these aims? Why/why not?
  • What responsibility does the Government have to provide welfare? What responsibilities do welfare recipients have?
  • How does welfare quarantining effect remote communities? Is it a problem if remote communities feel discriminated against? Why/why not?
  • Does income management infringe on the individual choice of Indigenous Australians? Why might this be problematic in light of historical events?


Parliament of Australia – Does income management work?

Australian Government – Chapter 2: The Healthy Welfare Card.

The Guardian – Welfare quarantining? Does it work?

The Australian – Coalition bid to expand welfare quarantining

The Sydney Morning Herald – Cash quarantine unfair to majority: welfare groups