Statement on Cashless Debit legislation

ACOSS is deeply disappointed that the Parliament rammed through legislation whilst no one was watching to extend cashless debit, ignoring the evidence that compulsory cashless debit card does not work.

There is no justification for continuing this deeply flawed and discriminatory policy.

Everyone on a working-age income support payment will still be targeted by the card under the amended bill.

Even with the possibility of being taken off the card, it is still a humiliating policy that applies to only people on low incomes. It serves to further humiliate people as they have to prove they are capable enough to not be on the card.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has repeatedly found that the cashless debit card policy discriminates against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner criticised cashless debit as incompatible with Australia’s human rights obligations.

The card should be voluntary. Voluntary income management has been found to be the most effective form of this policy.

We urge both major political parties to listen to communities who have the solutions.