By Tina Clausen
YOUR assistance is URGENTLY needed to stop the further roll out of the privatisation of Social Security via the forced income management of anyone who happens to receive some kind of Social Security payment.
On Wednesday a Bill is up for voting in Parliament in order to add a new ‘trial’ area as well as extend the existing ongoing years long ‘trials’ already happening in many places around Australia. The final plan is to impose this draconian scheme on anyone of any age on any kind of Social Security benefit or pension. This week’s Bill is to add in the WHOLE of the Northern Territory as a ‘trial area’.
Everyone on any kind of Social Security payment, not just job seekers but also carers, people on the Disability Support Pension, students, part-time or gig workers getting a Centrelink top up, single parents, struggling farmers, fledgling small businesses owners, veterans, family tax benefit recipients, ALL are considered by this Government to be financially incompetent (this judgement being based purely on source of income, nothing else) and in need of forced income management.
URGENT: Phone or Email the Crossbench to VOTE NO on ‘Transition Bill 2019’.
- Stirling Griff (08) 8212 1409 / (02) 6277 3128 email@example.com
- Rex Patrick (08) 8232 1144 / (02) 6277 3785 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rebekha Sharkie (08) 8398 5566 / (02) 6277 2113 email@example.com
- Jacqui Lambie (03) 6431 3112 / (02) 6277 3614 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cashless Welfare Card forced income management scheme has been falsely promoted as only being there to stop people using Social Security benefits/pensions on alcohol, gambling products and drugs (let us not even start on how and why this assumption of ‘deviancy’ has been applied on a blanket basis to people just because they happen to be clients of Centrelink), but not to worry as everything else is business as usual.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It restricts so much more than that, it is not just like an ordinary debit card in any other way.
Stripping away people’s right to manage their own finances, making them second-class citizens, having to endure abuse and stigmatisation, being automatically branded as drug/alcohol abusers, being financially worse off due to extra fees and charges for using the card, plus penalties for when Indue fail to pay bills set up for direct debit is NOT OK.
Being denied opportunities to make ends meet by accessing cheaper options via markets, garage sales, eBay, buy/sell groups, many online stores, cash in hand sales/repairs etc, is NOT OK.
Many people don’t seem to realise that eBay, Gumtree, a large proportion of on-line businesses as well as many physical stores selling ordinary goods, plus local eating and entertainment places are on ‘Indue’s block list as you could potentially buy alcohol from them. Other excluded businesses have just not bothered to apply to be on Indue’s ‘Approved Merchants’ list. A number have even deliberately decided not to be on it in order to exclude people on Centrelink benefits from accessing their services. Some of these include motels and caravan parks. This has had devastating consequences for some people fleeing domestic violence situations. It is also pure discrimination.
Having to justify to Indue why you should be allowed to spend money (and how much) on items like e.g. specialty bras, some trade services, text books, spare parts, specialised medical equipment needs, school excursions, second hand cars, someone to mow your lawn, attending a school fete, cash needed for transport on regional buses, buying second-hand uniforms, emergency replacement of a second hand fridge or washing machine, emergency car repairs, etc (many being situations where cash is generally asked for) then having to wait days for approval (or not) after submitting an affidavit, photos and a letter that the vendor has to supply, all of that is NOT OK.
Having your financial/credit rating destroyed by Indue whenever they fail to pay your rent or bills in time or fail to process them at all, is NOT OK. Becoming homeless because of this, having your rental history destroyed and real estate agents blacklisting you for non or late rental payments, and/or at the very least, once again continually incurring financial penalties and extra fees and charges is NOT OK.
All of this horror occurring supposedly in the name of ‘supporting’ (punishing actually) those few broken people who may ‘waste’ some of their Social Security benefit on alcohol or drugs. It is worth noting that people identified as having addiction issues already have a support option available in the Centrelink system via being able to be given their payments weekly rather than fortnightly. Ironically, people on this program are EXEMPT from being forced onto the Cashless Welfare Card’s income management scheme.
The lived experience of current ‘Trial Participants’:
- Increased depression, social isolation and despair.
- Reports of increased schoolyard ‘poverty’ bullying of kids whose parents have been forced onto this scheme.
- Direct debit and BPAY Payments not being met on time or honoured, money regularly going missing from Indue accounts.
- Reports from participants of increased inability to emotionally and physically cope with every day budget management given the complexity of split incomes. Not only between your own bank account and the Indue Cashless Welfare Card account, but the fact that the Indue account is further split into various spending categories that somehow you are meant to keep track of and divide all of your bills, expenses and spending into. Woe betide you if one week you might want to spend more than what has been ‘allocated’ to the grocery category or on unexpected bills. Doesn’t matter if you have more than enough money in ‘your’ account, it has to be in the ‘correct’ category for you to be allowed to spend it.
- Increases in anger, frustration, desperation.
- Ongoing stigma and harassment online, in media, in parliament, and socially.
- Couples experiencing difficulties with no joint access, they must ‘financially divorce’ to continue to receive payments and pay bills.
- The impact of daily media poverty shaming.
- Ongoing impacts of economic segregation/social exclusion from every day cash-only family outings.
- NDIS: People are reporting difficulties with being on Indue Cards and negotiating with NDIS service providers for travel expenses.
- Increases in Domestic Violence.
- The bullying, stalking, and active ‘trolling’ of anti-card dissenters by Ministers, paid political activists and a specific group of LNP allied members of the general public (one of whom had to be reported to area police for offline and online stalking of a No Card Hinkler group member).
- Frequent failure of Indue card technology.
- Landlords not signing up to CentrePay for rental accommodation.
- Ongoing cash and third-party renter issues.
- Experiences of bullying and ‘strong arming’ of local shop owners, service groups and businesses by the Department in trial regions and targeted regions.
- Inconsistency: Indue LTD staff at shop fronts in trial locations saying one thing to CDC participants and the Department saying another.
- Loss of dignity and equality.
- Complaints Job Search Australia and Parents Next staff members using the existence of the cashless debit card as a threat and tool for compliance and bullying.
- Increases in successful suicides, attempted suicide and self-injury that have not been investigated or openly addressed.
- No monitoring of ‘at risk’ participants and a lack of reporting processes in place to address critical and cumulative mental health concerns of compulsory CDCT participants.
- Families reporting a lack of food / going hungry due to random card declines, also an increased need to access food banks and charities.
- Indue Ltd is not consistently meeting Direct debit and BPAY payments.
- Families of trial participants reporting they are having to cover expenses and provide needed cash for necessities in order to make up cash shortfalls whenever and wherever the Indue card is not an accepted form of payment.
- Indue Ltd not making loan, credit card and childcare payments on time (multiple reports).
- Indue systems failures leaving people stranded.
- Loss of income by way of increased bank fees and $10 ‘inbound fees’ that are being applied to some participant cash and emergency transfers.
- Additional transaction fees and in store card user fees.
- Legitimate Banks are not recognising more than the 20% cash component as lawful recipient income. They won’t recognise the 80% Indue component as income when people apply for loans or credit.
- Inability of domestic violence victims to flee family violence.
- Inability to engage in every day cultural and social practices.
- Minimum spends at local shops impacting cash portion and quarantined portions of income.
- Indue Ltd has not been investigating lost payments or late payments.
- People are unable to pay council rates, school fees, childcare costs.
- Hunger strikes.
- Marriage and kinship group breakdown.
- Homelessness, evictions, landlords unwilling to access CentrePay or wanting to rent to people who are on the cashless welfare card.
- Inability to access basic shopping services such as Woolworths and Coles online, eBay, PayPal and Australia Post.
- The refusal of some people to activate cashless debit cards leaving the most vulnerable in extreme and abject poverty, off grid entirely.
I ask everyone to please URGENTLY email or phone the above-mentioned cross benchers to implore them to vote AGAINST this Bill in Parliament on Wednesday. I also ask that you please share this article as far and wide as you possibly can. People MUST be allowed to know the truth about this nefarious and discriminatory scheme, whose only real purpose is the privatisation of Social Security so that a private company can make a huge profit of around $12,000 per person forced on to the card. (What a joke talking about Social Security recipients ‘wasting’ taxpayers’ money.
The Cashless Welfare Card is nothing but financial apartheid and forced social segregation of a group of your fellow community members and Australians.
No Cashless Welfare Debit Card Australia, The Say NO Seven, Kathy Strickland, Kerri Shannon, Kathryn Wilkes for additional information and supplied picture.
“Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Income Management and Cashless Welfare) Bill 2019.”
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