The Cashless Debit Card will begin rolling out in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region from 29 January next year, helping about 6,000 people break the cycle of welfare dependency.
Visiting the region today, Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher, said the local community has called for help and the Liberal-National Government has acted.
“The Cashless Debit Card is about breaking the cycle of intergenerational welfare dependence and winding back entrenched youth unemployment,” Mr Fletcher said.
“It underlines our commitment to a social welfare system that reduces social harm and supports vulnerable people, families and communities.”
Federal Member for Hinkler, Keith Pitt, said the card will help people put their welfare payments into essentials – like feeding children and paying bills.
“When activated, 80 percent of a welfare recipient’s social security payments is placed on the card and it can’t be used to buy alcohol or gambling products,” Mr Pitt said.
“Cardholders still have access to cash, with 20 per cent of their fortnightly welfare payment deposited in their bank account.
“The card simply limits the amount of money in the community that can be spent on alcohol and gambling.”
Mr Fletcher said the first evaluation of trials of the card in Western Australia and South Australia showed that 40 percent of participants said they were better able to look after their children and 45 percent have been better able to save money.
“People from the trial sites were able to buy more baby items, food, clothing and shoes and Keith and I look forward to seeing similar results in Hinkler,” Mr Fletcher said.
Mr Fletcher said the welfare system must be targeted, sustainable and in line with community expectations.
“Taxpayers want their money to pay for housing, food and care for children – not alcohol, drugs and gambling.” Mr Fletcher said.
“The Government also understands the importance of support services in these regions.
“That’s why the roll-out will be complemented by more than $1 million in additional funding for the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region to boost social support services already in place.”
The cashless debit card will cover people aged 35 years and under who receive Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance (Job seeker), Parenting Payment (Single) or Parenting Payment (Partnered).
The rollout will include Bundaberg, Hervey Bay and the townships of Aldershot, Bargara, Elliott Heads, Woodgate, Branyan, Booyal, Burrum Heads, Torbanlea, Toogoom, Howard, Childers, Burnett Heads, River Heads and Point Vernon.