The new Federal Government’s decision to scrap the cashless debit card is the subject of debate in remote parts of Western Australia, where the card has been used at trial sites in the Goldfields and the ‘East Kimberly.
The card quarantines 80% of a person’s welfare payments and cannot be used for alcohol, gambling or cash withdrawals.
The scheme was set up to try to reduce alcohol-related harm, but Deputy Social Services Minister Justine Elliot said its restrictions had “destroyed lives”.
Goldfields’ wife, Christine Donaldson, contacted the morning program to describe the shame and humiliation of being forced to use the card.
She said that as someone who had ever had a credit card, it was humiliating to have to go to shops in her community – where she was widely known – and hand over the card.
She said the card was a way of controlling her people, and it was the way of the days gone by of the government when indigenous people were controlled by receiving rations.
“Now I have to have my private finances controlled by the government. I have worked for over 30 years in various positions and feel stripped of my rights to spend my money on what I desire.”
Listen to her describe what it’s like to live on a cashless welfare card.