We’ve heard about it for months now but finally, cashless welfare cards are being trialled to see if they can help to break the cycle of alcoholism and gambling in Australia’s most disadvantaged communities.
Most of us can agree that welfare money should be used for necessities but until now, Human Services have not been able to monitor spending of the millions of welfare recipients around the country.
Now, the South Australian town of Ceduna will be the first in Australia to trial the new cashless welfare card. From February 2016, adult welfare recipients in the town will have 80 per cent of their payment quarantined so it cannot be spent on alcohol or gambling, reports the ABC.
The government also hopes this will stop government payments being used to buy drugs.
The town’s mayor Allan Suter said, “We’re very happy to support what we think will be a huge improvement for our community generally.
“The principal concern we were trying to address was the very sad situation where a very small minority of people are spending the bulk of the benefits that they receive on the purchase of alcohol or gambling services.
“We’re hoping this will be one of a series of steps taken to break the cycle”.
“We’ve discussed this at length with the community leaders and we’ve settled on the figure that 80 per cent of all welfare payments will be placed onto this cashless debit card and the remaining 20 per cent will go into an ordinary cash account.
“Now this means that most people will still have between about $60 and $150 of cash per week, depending on their family circumstances”, he said.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge said people receiving the age pension will not be forced into holding the welfare card, but they would have the option to volunteer it, something he believes will be popular.
“I believe that many people will”, he said.
“Because certainly amongst some communities they might get targeted or humbugged for money if they’re the only ones that have an access of money there.
“So we’re going to provide that opportunity for people to give them that protection should they choose to have it”.
A national roll out is expected to follow later next year.
Tell us, would you be willing to use a welfare card to access your pension? Or would you rather have privacy around your money?