Future unclear for welfare card
The Social Services Department has not decided whether to expand trials of the cashless welfare card.
Praise and criticism of the restricted welfare scheme continues, but there were some indications that the card will be made mandatory for welfare recipients nationwide.
“At this stage there has been no decision to extend the trial,” the Department of Social Services (DSS) said in a statement to the media this week.
“While a number of communities across Australia have expressed interest in the trial, no decision has been made regarding an expansion to any new location,” the DSS said.
Broome shire president Ron Johnston has become the latest to call for a trail in his town, after raising the idea at meetings of the council and local liquor accord.
“I think the cashless card system is the way to go and that's the one [approach] I'd be advocating that we try,” he said.
“It probably would be restrictive for some people, and I acknowledge that… but I think it's worth the town having a discussion about the benefits and the disadvantages.”
The town of Broome struggles with disproportionately high levels of alcohol-related violence, public drunkenness and child neglect.
Meanwhile, reports of a new tehcnique for thwarting the system have emerged.
Some welfare recipients had already been using taxis as a kind of ATM in some cashless card trial sites – asking drivers to rack up bills that they could pay on the card and then have reimbursed from the driver’s cash.
Now, some residents are reportedly changing their listed address at Centrelink to areas outside of trial zones in order to access their full payment.
An independent review of the trial should be released mid-year.