26 February 2020
The first independent study of the cashless debit card and income management, conducted by researchers at the University of Queensland and Monash University, has found 84% of people surveyed had experienced stigma and shame while using the card.
The research involved a survey and 114 in-depth interviews at four sites: Playford (BasicsCard) and Ceduna (Cashless Debit Card) in South Australia; Shepparton (BasicsCard) in Victoria; and the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region (Cashless Debit Card) in Queensland.
The research found that not only was the card stigmatising, it was also unreliable and impractical, especially for parents. It also found that the overwhelming majority forced to use the card had no addiction or budgeting issues.
One of the researchers, Professor Greg Marston, of the University of Queensland, was quoted saying: “The majority of people didn’t have a problem with spending or budgeting, what they had a problem with was inadequate income support payments.”
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“This thorough, independent research confirms what we have been hearing from people forced to use the cashless debit card – it’s stigmatising, impractical and unnecessary.
“The cashless debit card makes it harder for people to buy from op-shops, buy second-hand furniture, rent in shared accommodation or to provide children with money for school activities.
“Many people feel humiliated when they have to pay with the card. The card compounds the sense of shame many people feel about being unemployed when they are doing all they can to find paid work in today’s competitive job market with only one job available for every eight people looking.
“Instead of forcing people on to stigmatising cashless debit cards, which cost thousands per person to administer, we need our political leaders to help lift people out of the poverty trap by increasing Newstart and improving employment services.
“We’re urging the Senate to block any move by the Government to extend the cashless debit card and thank those senators who’ve visited communities subjected to the cards and have heard people’s concerns,” Dr Goldie said.