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Eva Cox on Cashless Debit Card

Posted on: Wed 6 Dec 2017

This week’s show is a repeat of a show that was broadcast earlier in 2017. It focuses on the Cashless Debit Card that is being trialled in communities on the west coast of South Australia around Ceduna including Yalata, Oak Valley, Koonibba and Scotdesco. It also includes the communities of Kununurra and Wyndham in Western Australia.

The federal Department of Social Services says that the Cashless Card was introduced to reduce the harm caused by ‘welfare-fuelled alcohol and drug abuse and gambling’ by reducing the amount of cash available to people. 80% of people’s welfare payments are paid into a debit card account (managed by a company called Indue) that doesn’t allow cash withdrawals and cannot be used for alcohol or gambling. People on the Card can only access 20% of their income benefits in the form of cash.

There has been a blanket and mandatory approach to the implementation of the Card. Everyone who gets income support has to be on the Card, with the exception of people who receive the age pension or veterans’ payment.

The Cashless Debit Card is part of the government’s income management strategy and was introduced as a 12 month trial in the Ceduna area in March 2016 and in Western Australia in April 2016

So far, the trial has cost $18.9 million, that’s an administration cost of $10,000 per trial participant. .

In October 2016, the federal government’s Department of Social Services released its progress report on the trial of the Cashless Debit Card followed by an interim evaluation report in March 2017.

In March 2017, the Minister for Social Services, Mr Alan Tudge, announced that the trial of the Cashless Debit Card was a success and that the Card will continue to be implemented on a permanent, ongoing basis in the two trial sites. This decision was taken even though the final evaluation report on the trial was not due until June 2017.

In previous Paper Tracker radio shows we’ve heard from Minister Tudge, and from community members who’ve been affected by the trial Cashless Debit Card. In this show, we chat with Eva Cox, a social policy researcher and academic who is now attached to Jumbunna Indigenous research unit at the University of Technology, Sydney.

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