ACOSS’ response to the Minister for Social Service’s opinion piece

1 February 2019

The Minister for Social Services’ opinion piece was published in The Australian, 1/2/19

The Minister for Social Services asserts that the cashless debit card is being expanded to address unemployment.

This degrading card will do nothing to increase job numbers and will make life harder for people while they look for paid work, study or care for children.

Many people tell us that they are left feeling humiliated by having their incomes controlled.

The card is also impractical, precluding people from buying second-hand furniture or shopping for food at markets.

We have a shortage of entry level, low-skilled jobs especially in regional and remote areas.

The Liberal Member representing the Bundaberg region, one of the areas with the card, has stated a lack of job vacancies is a ‘major hurdle that job seekers face locally … and, of course, the high number of applicants’.

People receiving a social security payment are made to submit 20 job applications a month, even though there are often not enough local jobs available.

Employers are being flooded with applications and many agree we need to reform our employment services system.

This week the Prime Minister announced the government would boost jobs numbers but provided no detail on how this would be achieved.

Instead of making empty job-creation promises and humiliating people while they look for one, the Government should save money by getting rid of nasty, wasteful policies like work for the dole, and the cashless debit card.

It should listen to employers and the community sector by fixing the employment services system so that job agencies have enough resources to work with people in a positive way, one-on-one to find suitable training and employment.

We also desperately need the Government to finally commit to providing people a livable allowance, rather than the current paltry $40 a day, so they are not pushed further into poverty while they are out of paid work.

Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service.