Cashless Welfare Card

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The Cashless Welfare Card or Indue card or healthy welfare card or Cashless Debit Card or white card is an initiative to do with social services in Australia. It is a bank card which quarantines income for people on certain income support payments by not allowing the owner to purchase alcohol or gamble or to withdraw cash. The cards are attached to a separate bank account into which 80% of the income support payment is paid. In addition, the cashless welfare card only allows users of the card to buy products at approved sellers, that support electronic MasterCard or Visa payments. It cannot stop users from buying restricted goods at shops that sell both restricted and approved goods, such as supermarkets that sell alcohol. Bill payments are set up by Centrelink to automatically be paid by the card. An earlier income management card, the BasicsCard, was trialled in the Northern Territory.

In 2013, Andrew Forrest was chosen to lead a review into Indigenous employment and training programs, which was to report to the Australian government. Alan Tudge was to work with Forrest on the review, and Marcia Langton was also on the review committee. The review was delivered on 1 August 2014, with 27 recommendations. Forrest recommended that the healthy welfare card be mandatory for unemployed people, carers, people with disabilities and single parents. According to Langton, the review recommended that the card only be used in areas where most households were receiving welfare, with the goal of ending intergenerational poverty. The Forrest Review did not review the impact of the BasicsCard or other income management schemes when recommending the healthy welfare card. While Forrest initially envisaged a fully cashless card, Tudge altered it to be mostly cashless.

Inquiry

A senate inquiry was conducted into the card in 2015.

Trials

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Cashless Welfare Card is located in Australia Ceduna/Kununurra/Kalgoorlie/Bundaberg Existing trial sites (red) and proposed (yellow)

Trials began in March 2016. Senator Rachel Siewert of the WA Green Party attempted to halt the trials. The card has faced criticism for targeting Indigenous people, and for its compulsory use by recipients of social security payments, even when they do not engage in behaviours like using illegal drugs or alcohol or gamble. In August 2017, a delegation of community and Indigenous leaders showed Turnbull video footage of their town, describing them as “war zones”, asking for the card to be implemented in their towns. In December 2017, Labor and the Greens announced that they would not support further trials in the Goldfields or Bundaberg. The third trial location has not yet been decided. The legislation to decide on the third trial site would also make it possible for the government to roll the card out more widely without parliamentary approval.

Ceduna, South Australia

When the trial began, Ceduna elder Sue Haseldine stated that community consultation had been limited to service providers, rather than including people who would be put on the card. The community panels that cardholders can apply to to get more of their income as cash are anonymous.

Kununurra and Wyndham, Western Australia

Trials in Kununurra and Wyndham began in April 2016. Around 1,200 people are part of the trial in Kununurra and Wyndham. WA Police have released statistics saying that violence and intimidating behaviour has increased in the area since the card’s introduction.

Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Turnbull announced that the Goldfields, including Kalgoorlie, would be a trial site for the cashless card in September 2017. This trial site would include 3800 participants. In a statement to the senate inquiry on the suitability of Kalgoorlie, the government commented on the site’s potential to test the card’s scalability to a wider use within the population.

Hinkler, Queensland

6,700 people in the Division of Hinkler will be rolled into the trial in 2018. It is the first urban area to trial the card.














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