Cashless Welfare Minister responds to CPSA

Article published 17 November 2021

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IN a letter responding to CPSA’s concerns about the Cashless Welfare Card, the Families and Social Services Minister has said that the Australian Government “has no intention of extending [the Cashless Welfare Card] to Age Pensioners”.

The Minister’s letter can be accessed here.

CPSA accepts that the Minister has committed the Australian Government to not putting Age Pensioners as a group on the Cashless Welfare Card.

VOICE readers will be relieved to learn that Age Pensioners as a group will not be put onto the Card.

It is also clear from the Minister’s letter that under certain conditions some Age Pensioners could be put on the Cashless Welfare Card as they have been in the Cape York region.

In the Cape York region, some (not all) Age Pensioners have been put on the Cashless Welfare Card compulsorily as “a result of a request by the Queensland’s Family Responsibilities Commission (FRC), which is a statutory body conceived by Aboriginal Australians and driven by community members”.

Obviously, what has occurred in the Cape York region can occur elsewhere. For example, if more trial areas were created, organisations similar to the FRC could be asking for this. Then, the same could happen.

The Government claims that what happens in the Cape York region “is a unique circumstance and is not a precedent for the rest of Australia”.

CPSA disagrees with the Minister on that point: it does set a precedent, because anything that happens for the first time sets a precedent.

However, it doesn’t set a precedent for all Age Pensioners to be put on the Cashless Welfare Card simply on the basis of their status of Age Pensioner.

Age Pensioners can put aside any fears that they as a group will be put on the Cashless Welfare Card. This will not happen.

However, anyone on a social security payment other than the Age Pension and living in a Cashless Welfare Card trial area has no choice and is put on the Cashless Welfare Card.

This includes people up to the age of 67 on the Disability Support Pension, the Carer Payment and the JobSeeker Payment.

CPSA continues to oppose putting anyone on to the Cashless Welfare Card who doesn’t want to be put on it. People who have been forced on to the card have reported that they find it not only unreasonably restrictive but also humiliating and demeaning.

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