The cashless debit card is currently being rolled out in the Hervey Bay Area to a select group of 6000 people under 35 years old who receive welfare in the forms of Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowances (job seeker), Parenting Payment (single) as well as Parenting Payment (partnered). The cashless card has been controversial from the day it was started, but trials are proving that by limiting access of welfare cash payments by creating a debit card that does not allow the purchase of alcohol and access to gambling that the lives of both individual and families are improving.
The card’s success in other communities has shown a decrease of welfare payments being used for alcohol and drug use and a increase of welfare benefits actually being spent to improve the family. Independent evaluations have also found increased motivation to find employment as well as improved financial management.
Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher said members of the community in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region stand to benefit from the success of the Cashless Debit Card trial.
“Independent evaluation shows that the Cashless Debit Card is working. People are spending more money on their family welfare than on alcohol, drug abuse and gambling,” Mr Fletcher said.
“I am confident that the Cashless Debit Card can support the community to address social issues such as high youth unemployment and intergenerational welfare dependence in the region.”
It is important to note that welfare payments do not change in value with the new system, though they are now disbursed differently with 80% being made available on the cashless debit card and 20% being deposited as normal into bank accounts. This 20% can basically used as cash.
It can be used at most retail outlets (except liquor stores and gambling establishments) that have eftpos facilities. It is however limited by the product being purchased. In stores that sell both mixed goods ie food and alcohol, the card will not accept the purchase of the alcohol. If eating out in a café, restaurant or pub that sells alcohol, the debit card can be used to purchase the meal but not the alcohol. The card can be used to pay bills via BPay. It cannot be used to withdraw cash. It may also have limits in purchasing some gift cards. You can also shop online at approved websites. To check out which ones go to the indue website www.indue.com.au/dct/merchants/approved and you will find all approved websites.
Those that have their rent paid via Centrecare can continue to do this as usual.
Once issued with a cashless debit card you remain in the scheme even if you leave the area. It is only when you turn 36 or your financial circumstances change then you will be removed.
There has been a mixed reaction to the card since its inception, arguments against creating a ‘nanny state’ being one of the greatest. But this is a difficult issue that cannot be solved overnight. The cashless debit cards have been issued in communities that have, as Mr Fletcher says: “Put their hands up for this initiative because they were determined to tackle the scourge of
welfare-funded drug, alcohol and gambling abuse in their communities – and their courage has been rewarded.”
The card offers the user all the freedoms of a normal card with the exception of withdrawing cash, using it to gamble or buying alcohol. Everyone still has cash access to 20% of their money.
It will be interesting to see how well the roll out goes in Hervey Bay and review the ongoing study results as to the benefits this has given to those in the program. If you need any further information please contact The Department of Social Security on 1800 252 604 or go to
If you need help activating your card please go to the new Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre shopfront at 4/55 Main Street, Pialba. This shopfront is open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4.30pm (excluding public holidays).
For further information about evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card, please visit the Department of Social Services website.
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