Federal Government’s planned expansion of the Cashless Debit Card

SITUATION: You are a social worker working for the Australian Council of Social Services
(ACOSS), a peak advocacy organisation for social issues. You have been asked to prepare
a discussion paper for the Board of the organisation and for the wider community on the
Federal Government’s planned expansion of the Cashless Debit Card.
A cashless debit card is a form of compulsory income management that restricts how a
person can spend their income support payment. “The Cashless Debit Card (also known as
the ‘cashless welfare card’) compels income support recipients to have 80 percent of their
payments quarantined to a debit card that cannot be used for gambling or to purchase
alcohol or withdraw cash. The remaining 20 percent of a person’s payment is placed into
their normal bank account. 100 percent of lump-sum payments from Centrelink (such as
Family Tax Benefit) are also transferred to the debit card” (St Vincent De Paul Society).
The Cashless Debit Card program is currently operating in the Ceduna region, South
Australia, the Goldfields and East Kimberley regions, Western Australia and the Bundaberg
and Hervey Bay region, Queensland.
This is a different form of income management than the BasicsCard, however some
evidence, evaluations, and commentary regarding the implementation of the BasicsCard
may assist to inform your analysis of the Cashless Debit Card program.

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