We’re really concerned to hear that the Federal Government is considering a national expansion of the cashless debit card. This would mean that people who rely on income support, such as Newstart, will have up to 80% of their payment put onto the card, which can only be used in certain outlets, and for certain items, such as housing and food. The card can’t be used to spend money on alcohol or gambling, and won’t work in many retail outlets.
People with disability face extra costs that compulsory income management does not consider. For example, some people with disability have difficulties preparing meals and buy pre-prepared food out of necessity, others can’t eat certain types of foods due to medication or secondary conditions. Without access to a full range of retailers, including providers of second hand goods, people are denied access to items they need at an affordable price. Income management, combined with the low rates of Newstart and Youth Allowance, make it harder for people with disability to live healthy lives.
We believe that providing more support for financial management is a good idea, but that this is the wrong way to do that. People should be able to opt in to using the card if they feel it would be helpful.
Up to 40% of the people relying on Newstart are people with disability. The best measure to improve the lives of people with disability on income support, such as Newstart, would be to raise the rate of the payment, not to make using the little they get more difficult.
If you have concerns about the proposed expansion of the cashless debit card, please call Minister Ruston’s office in Canberra – she is the Minister for Social Services. Please be polite, and explain your concerns about this proposal.
Phone: (02) 6277 7560
The Sydney Morning Herald also reported that Coles and Woolworths are in discussions about this proposal. You can contact them via their Facebook pages here: Coles, Woolworths.