Cashless welfare card scheme to be made permanent

The scheme sees up to 80 per cent of a welfare recipient’s payments quarantined on to a card that cannot be used for gambling or alcohol purchases (ABC Wide Bay/Nicole Hegarty)

Welfare recipients on the cashless debit card say they feel a sense of “hopelessness” after the Morrison Government announced plans to make the scheme permanent across four trial sites. Source: The Guardian.

The decision in this month’s federal budget comes as the most recent figures show a provision to allow cardholders to exit the scheme has only approved one in four applications.

It means most of the 12,000 welfare recipients living in Ceduna, South Australia, the East Kimberley and the Goldfields areas of Western Australia, and Hervey Bay and Bundaberg in Queensland are likely to be stuck on the card until they move off benefits.

The controversial scheme quarantines up to 80 per cent of a welfare recipient’s payments on to a card, which cannot be used on products such as alcohol or gambling.

Research has questioned the card’s utility, but the Government insists it’s working to reduce social harms in areas where there are high numbers of welfare recipients.

Under legislation introduced to Parliament last week, the card would become “ongoing” in the current trial sites.

Bundaberg resident Emilie Randell, 28, was placed on the card in November 2019. She said the continuation of the card was difficult to accept and gave her a sense of “hopelessness”.

A spokeswoman for Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the Government was committed to making sure the card was “no different” to any other bank card.


Australians on cashless welfare card express 'hopelessness' after Coalition's plan to cement scheme (By Luke Henriques-Gomes, The Guardian

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