Cashless welfare cards: effective or punishment?
Other highlights will include sport activities, a reptile show, family portraits, free rides, dads and kids’ hair workshops, and more.
It is a free family event. The first 500 children to attend will receive a free sports ball. OPINIONS are divided over the success of the controversial cashless welfare cards which are being trialled by around 15,000 people in parts of South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia – and which could be introduced here in the future.
The card quarantines 80 per cent of payments for those on the Newstart unemployment benefit and Youth Allowance preventing them from withdrawing cash, and purchasing alcohol, drugs and gambling.
Recipients receive the remaining 20 per cent of welfare payment into their usual bank account.
Statistics show that Queensland’s Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, where the cards are being trialled, have seen a drop in the youth unemployment rate from 28 per cent in May 2018 to 18.1 per cent in May 2019.
An independent review into the trial at Ceduna and East Kimberley in South Australia reported that the trial had been effective in reducing alcohol consumption, gambling and the use of illicit drugs.
Earlier this month Prime Minister Scott Morrison hinted at a national rollout of the card, but not all are convinced a cashless welfare card is the best way forward.
Jimmy Forrest, an Aboriginal Family Health worker at Dubbo Neighbourhood Centre, believes a national rollout of the card would only exacerbate existing social issues within communities.
“It’s taking away their (card users) independence and all it’s going to do is put more crime on the street and people will find ways around it anyway,” Mr Forrest told Dubbo Photo
“If they want it (drugs, gambling, alcohol) enough, they’ll soon find a way to get it and what a lot of them will do is sell their goods or food just to get the money to buy drugs.”
Meanwhile, Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said the initiative was not intended as a “punishment”.
“Rather, it’s an effective way of supporting Australians on welfare to have more control of their lives, and ensure they are able to put the needs of their children and family first,” Mr Coulton said.
“The trial is testing whether reducing the amount of cash available in a community will reduce the overall harm caused by welfare-fuelled alcohol, gambling and drug misuse.
“At the same time, it encourages personal responsibility and financial management.”
Given card-users cannot withdraw cash and only spend 80 per cent of their welfare payments in certain stores, Mr Forrest believes this will prevent people who are struggling with addiction problems from paying for rehabilitation.
“They were saying that the cashless card is there to help people, but as far as I‘m concerned, it’s not going to help, especially people who want to get into rehab and try to get off the drugs and that, because they need cash to go to the rehabs and the card is not designed to help get them into rehab,” Mr Forrest said.
“The government should be spending more money on rehab centres and that sort of stuff in the communities, and instead of making it more difficult for people to get help, they need to make it easier.”
The Government is currently focused on passing legislation to roll out the card in Cape York and across the Northern Territory with backing from One Nation and independent Senator Jacqui Lambie.
Dubbo Aboriginal Family Health worker, Jimmy Forrest.