Cashless welfare card creating second-class citizens

A proposed bill to expand a Cashless Debit Card trial to Queensland promotes a form of second-class citizenship and betrays the original purpose of the development of social security in this country, says Griffith Law School academic Dr Shelley Bielefeld.

In her submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Dr Bielefeld (pictured, right) says the Bill to expand the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) to Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, increasing nationwide trial recipients to 15,000, has serious flaws.

She said the majority of participants in other trial areas indicated that violence in their communities had either increased or stayed the same since the CDC started and many experienced unnecessary financial hardship as a result of the card.

Research indicates that “48% reported not being better able to care for their children since being on the CDC”, with 50% reporting “that they have not been able to save more money since being forced on the CDC.”

Touted by government as a means to address substance abuse, Dr Bielefeld states the CDC has not addressed such issues in the manner claimed, and “people with addiction problems can easily circumvent restrictions”.

Dr Bielefeld notes there is no solid evidence supporting government assertions about the CDC leading to positive outcomes, as confirmed by the recent Australian National Audit Office report.

She says the CDC also erodes human rights of government income support recipients subject to the card.