The Cashless Debit Card starts operating in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region today – meaning around 6,000 people have a better chance to escape from the cycle of welfare dependency.
The region is the fourth location in Australia to receive the Cashless Debit Card, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to helping vulnerable communities.
Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher, said the Cashless Debit Card was coming to the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay community in response to calls from the community.
"At more than 180 meetings across the region, locals pointed to youth unemployment, young families requiring support and intergenerational welfare dependence,” Mr Fletcher said.
“As at November 2018, the Wide Bay region had the second highest youth unemployment rate in Queensland at 20.4 per cent, with many vulnerable people experiencing intergenerational welfare dependence.
“Some 90 per cent of people aged 25 or under on unemployment benefits in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region in June 2016, had a parent who had received income support during the previous 15 years.”
Federal Member for Hinkler, Keith Pitt, said statistics supported anecdotal evidence that backed the need for the Cashless Debit Card.
“I’m for taking action to create real change in this community. Others are for doing nothing,” Mr Pitt said.
“It’s not a silver bullet but we know the Card helps communities with issues similar to ours so I’m looking forward to seeing positive changes here.”
Mr Fletcher said introduction of the Card clearly delineated the Liberal-National Government from Labor.
“Unlike Labor, we are committed to the principle of mutual obligation – and we believe the Cashless Debit Card is an effective way of supporting Australians on welfare to have more control of their lives,” Mr Fletcher said.
An independent evaluation in WA and SA found that the Card was having a “considerable positive impact”. Of participants surveyed, it was found:
- 41 per cent of participants who drank alcohol reported drinking less frequently;
- 48 per cent of participants who used drugs reported using drugs less frequently; and
- 48 per cent of those who gambled before the trial reported gambling less often.
“Visiting three towns in the Goldfields region of WA where the Cashless Debit Card is operating, I heard directly how it is making a difference in people’s lives,” Mr Fletcher said.
“People are better able to save money; parents have more money available to buy essential family items like nappies, food and clothing; police report fewer domestic violence callouts and health workers report fewer domestic violence presentations; and people say their town feels quieter and safer with less public drunkenness.”
As the rollout begins in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region, new card functionality has been added to make the user experience better for those on the card.
“We have improved the process for making direct debits, meaning the card can be used to pay bills at a wider range of businesses,” Mr Fletcher said.
“We have also made online shopping more widely available with the Cashless Debit Card.”
Mr Pitt said he encouraged people in the Hervey Bay-Bundaberg region moving onto the Card to use the free support services in place.
“There will be shopfronts available to help participants activate and operate their card,” Mr Pitt said.
“If anyone has questions, they can phone the free Cashless Card Debit Card Hotline on 1800 252 604 or contact the card provider, Indue Ltd, for help on 1800 710 265.
“They can also visit the Indue website at www.indue.com.au/dct/”
People aged 35 years and under who receive Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance (Job seeker), Parenting Payment (Single) or Parenting Payment (Partnered) in the region will receive the Cashless Debit Card.
The progressive rollout over a period of weeks will include Bundaberg, Hervey Bay and the townships of Aldershot, Bargara, Elliott Heads, Woodgate, Booyal, Burrum Heads, Torbanlea, Toogoom, Howard, Childers, Burnett Heads and River Heads.
For more information about the Cashless Debit Card, go to the Department of Social Services website.