Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has said today that emerging details of the healthy welfare card trial rollout further demonstrate that the punitive measure should be abandoned.
“To learn that 80% of someone’s income support will be forcibly quarantined to a card will make life remarkably harder for this already struggling group.
“Taking a punitive, top down approach that removes peoples’ decision making capacity doesn’t work. We know from evaluations that income management hasn’t delivered results, the healthy welfare card is a continuation of this approach.
“Limiting access to cash will severely restrict the ability to budget and decision making.
“Whether it be at the markets, lunch money for their kids, or a bus fare – all these things add up and may not be available via card payment. This is an unrealistic measure thought up by an out of touch billionaire and it needs to be abandoned.
“Addressing issues like alcohol abuse and gambling require a range of measures and wrap around supports, just restricting spending and access to cash doesn’t address the underlying causes and people will find other ways to buy alcohol as has been clearly seen in the Northern Territory.
“This measure outrageously suggests that all people on income support (aside from aged pensioners), including those on DSP are gambling and abusing alcohol and illicit drugs. This demonises people on income support and is a sledge hammer approach to social policy.
“We must abandon top down approaches that have failed in the past and will fail again and work closely with communities and leaders to address disadvantage.”