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Weighing up the Welfare Card

By Kathryn Wilkes

For anyone who has always been a law-abiding citizen, who was a very hard worker for many years and who has slogged it out “alone” to raise a teenage daughter, the welfare debit card feels like the lowest insult to their sense of personhood and belonging within our lovely country.

Like many, I did not ask to be on Income Support payments. A work injury and then other health issues meant I simply could not return to work, despite repeated attempts.

A system which (at that time) did not cover any other supports had me placed onto a “grandfathered” Disability Support Pension.

Told to make do on the DSP, I was initially given to believe that my poor health did not make me a lesser person.

I was permitted to supplement the DSP with smallish self-employment projects. I did not feel judged for doing so. It was once policy to let pensioners “have a go”. I managed until worsening health got in the way. I felt proud of my efforts. At least I had tried to make it.

The DSP “safety net” was intended to be enough to get by.

At the same time, I was raising my daughter and trying to also provide care for my extremely ill mother until her passing.

Today, it feels like everyone like me will be branded by their use of the welfare card. Members of the general public will see it and know that I am on Centrelink payment. Although my illness is not always visible, I will now have strangers judging me. They may even be looking at what food I am buying, what items I am buying with “their tax dollars”.

(How would it make you feel to be exposed to judgements like “You shouldn’t be allowed to buy that with MY Tax Dollars” at the community supermarket? We “bludgers” must grow thick skins, but this is so invasive!)

It makes me question what my life is for. What is the point? If the Coalition Federal Government gets away with this policy, almost every aspect of my life will be scrutinised and every financial decision will be publicly monitored or judged.

Card recipients may need permission just to pay individual bills. My entire financial and private life will be shared with partner organisations connected to the company operating the card, Indue. That’s everything: my money, my health (me!) sold out to some data collection agency.

This sounds like something straight out of 1984, but for nearly 5 million people on any payment between the age of 16-64 this craziness could become reality. It is a reality I don’t want for me, nor my daughter, nor for the majority of others in this country.

Tell me why my daughter should automatically be deemed unable to manage money, why she should be restricted as to where she can buy things? She is not incompetent simply because she is the child of a pensioner!

I survive and have survived by being able to buy secondhand goods. I use the freedom to choose where I shop to get the most out of every dollar possible.

My fixed income does not allow for emergencies or sudden costs.

When the car died, there was no magic pot of savings to delve into. Finance and credit are not an option for me. I tried to borrow money from the ex to replace the car. This loan further burdened an already very strained situation.

The welfare debit card will not provide me with sufficient cash to repay any such loan. Private debts are not considered when involved with financial matters.

The welfare card will make me feel like I am now a lesser person, unequal to the working guy next door or my other neighbour, a self-funded retiree that owns investment property.

Thanks to a victim-blaming media, “welfare bludgers” like me already live with challenging levels of stigma. People have no idea of how the Centrelink system works, the tight regulations and pressures of this impoverished life cycle. Yet all feel entitled to make critical assumptions.

The media have painted a picture of people milking the system and living it up.

This is very remote from the reality of 800,000 people on DSP, who at this time are frightened of being cut off and placed onto Newstart.

As for the poor buggers losing their jobs and trying to survive on Newstart, nearly 3 million are now looking and fighting for work. Any that cannot get more than a few hours a week are treated as “bludgers”.

Sole parents trying to raise the next generation all feel the boot being stuck in. The government’s latest insult, the “welfare card” will crush us.

I don’t do drugs, never have and never will. I don’t even like prescribed medicines. I have consumed just one single alcoholic drink, just the once, in 7 years. I rarely buy a lotto ticket. Given the 14 day gap until there is any income again, I must use every dollar carefully.

Yet, I must still be condemned and processed like any chronic addict with proven money management issues.

Our dreams fade too. I once hoped to be able to save enough to be able to take my daughter to meet my relatives in the UK before they die, and for her to see where I grew up. (Recent travel restrictions on DSP recipients mean they are only allowed outside the country for 28 days).

Were there no loan to repay, were there enough for bills, were there ways to save, were lottery tickets afforded and were miracles to occur: any proper journey back to explore my birthplace would remain outside the rules.

The card does not allow for even some types of basic domestic travel. Whenever it is necessary to drive to a city hospital, you can’t even pay the hospital parking with the card. Overnight hotel or motel accommodation nearby is also vetoed. So much for the “Healthy” card spin.

Folk on DSP did not commit a crime.

Dependence on DSP instantly stopped my life, it put an end to home ownership. Without enough income to maintain the mortgage payments, I also lost the house once I had to rely solely on DSP. Isn’t that huge loss punishment enough?

Goals are replaced with lost confidence. There is no living it up on Centrelink.

I am left with a life of isolation. The collapse of my health would have been restriction enough, but strong friendships founder and invitations dry up faster when you cannot afford to reciprocate hospitality or participate in events.

An impoverished environment and lifestyle is already riven with instability and trauma. This welfare card imposes further controls over my life that could cause extra stress.

Relinquishing this last bit of self-determination seems too much. What is the price of personhood?

I prefer to make decisions for myself and don’t want a random private company taking over that slender safety net and telling me how and where I can use it. While it will be detrimental to my financial and mental health; their shareholders will profit through my struggle and further loss of self worth.

Purchasing newish or hardly used items at markets, garage sales and op shops helps me afford basic essentials for my daughter. I once found her a pair of unworn Converse sneakers for $5 at a garage sale. The card would eliminate this sort of saving.

The Welfare Card only gives you the choice of relatively expensive retail shopping. New appliances are now way beyond budget.

The card would stop me from being able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at markets, but permit trips to McDonalds. (“Healthy”? Really?)

I feel that at nearly 50 years of age, my worth as a citizen is being thrown to the gutter. We are no longer viable, as we are not big “Income Tax” payers. We don’t generate enough profit for others. So they re-engineer the “free” market and take away freedom of choice.

When the boss says, “Sorry we have no more work for you”, aversive and dehumanising policies from Centrelink will not get us back in the game.

When work dries up, you are shifted from “valued” to “burden”. Within hours, the very low “safety net” begins to separate you from your hard earned savings and assets, reducing you to a stressed out mess and dumps you into poverty.

Redefined as a bludger/rorter/lazy, you find yourself being attacked by media and people you don’t know. They don’t know how hard you have worked, what you achieved, (buying a house, owning a car, being able to pay bills as they came in. Remember shopping when you want? Going out with family and friends to socialise?)

It all disappears as you struggle to re-organize your life, desperately trying to keep that house or pay the rent to keep a roof over your head.

Once unemployed, life as a person knows it is gone. Naturally, people try to get another job, albeit with lowered self esteem. Further dignity may be stripped from you as a job agency treats you as “waste of space loser who wants to sponge off the system”.

Yesterday you had a job, a future, friends, dreams for the future.

Today you are branded a “waster”, no longer valued, and you must join the 3 million other people struggling to survive the brutal punitive system that has sprung up around us to make profits for private business whose CEOs and managements are living well, while their “clients are starving and becoming homeless “and generally struggling not to drown in the inequality of the modern world”.

Where is our nation’s humanity and compassion when human worth is reduced to dollar productivity?

Where are the politicians standing up for the rights of all? Where are your MPs and Senators standing up for the rights of the 5 Million on every Centrelink payment aged 16-64? I know in my electorate not one of our members actually stands up for me and everyone like me? Why not, is it not the duty of our members of parliament to actually stand up for the people, all of the people, not just the “income tax payers” of this country.  We all pay our taxes and our dues too.

Last but not least, I do know people out there that may be in need of such a card, or a service, those that either volunteer or are referred through a court order etc, as in the cases for children at risk.

One is not blind to the devastation, poverty, alcoholism and addictions can cause havoc within poor families.

However, disempowering a person and thrusting their family into still more stressful situations, is not the way to fix all their problems.

Solving complex addiction and social problems requires expert professionals, compassionate caring supports, investment in the appropriate facilities, drug rehabs and properly funded support services. Many of the best support services have had their funding cut or been closed down by this Government.

Real investment in people is required. No mere card can suddenly cure addicts in a “one size fits all” or cookie cutter approach. Paternalism should have limits.

We are not all “one size fits all” and neither should this card be!

Kathryn Wilkes is a progressive humanist who has joined the Anti Poverty Network campaign against the Basics Card and Welfare Debit Card in the past 12 months. Her work follows on the 5 year campaign against the Basics Card by the SA Anti Poverty Network. She convenes related groups on Facebook (Say No to Cashless Welfare and We Don’t Need Income Management) and is a committee member for the March Australia Activists Exchange. She is based in Hervey Bay.

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53 comments

  1. Trish Corry

    Sorry to hear of your circumstances. I am fighting right along side of you. I will not rest until this disgusting jobseeker model is dismantled.

  2. Carol Taylor

    Kathryn, I believe you are correct, that users of a Welfare Card will have people peering into their supermarket trolleys and tut-tutting if you buy yourself any ‘luxury’ such as a packet of biscuits. You see it often enough, the stares, the mental notes taken just using a disabled parking spot. And this happens all-of-the-time.

  3. Deidre Zanker

    A change of govt would be a good start.

  4. Kaye Lee

    What they should be doing is increasing all pension and welfare payments by at least $50 a week. They should make power bills GST free for people on welfare. They should not be reducing payments for families with children – childcare and school are huge expenses for any parent. And they most definitely should not be dictating to people how this money may be spent. The examples brought up by Kathryn cannot be argued. Buying from garage sales and markets is much cheaper than going somewhere that takes a credit card. If they want to be helpful, issue them with a card which gives them free public transport.

    How long will it take to realise that paternalism doesn’t work? Why stigmatise and punish those who are most in need? Our vulnerable need our help, not abuse from Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch – two of the greatest recipients of corporate welfare going.

    We are all entitled to live a life free from fear – for that fear to be constant about just providing the necessities of life is a shameful indictment of the waste and absence of policy direction in this country.

    And every time you hear them cry about budget emergency and the dreadful debt left them by Labor making them unable to afford a decent standard of living for all but elite Australians, just remember, they are spending $1 trillion on defence over the next twenty years.

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/defence-spending-boost-will-put-1-trillion-price-tag-on-next-two-decades-says-expert-20160223-gn1jel.html

  5. Keitha Granville

    the aim of this policy is simple – stop having to provide welfare for people the Government considers as leaners on the budget.Many will die before they get medical treatment, many will become homeless and then die, and many will probably not bother registering for support so they aren’t branded with THE CARD. Then the government will be to say they have dramatically lowered the unemployment queues, and saved millions of welfare dollars.
    1984 – we’re living it.

  6. helvityni

    A silent killer.

  7. Harquebus

    Hear hear.

    There are also a significant number of people who have disabilities worth less than 20 points who, are basically unemployable and live solely on Newstart. 20 points gets you the DSP, anything less and you miss out.
    If your disability includes chronic pain then, that’s just too bad because, pain is worth exactly zero points.

    The welfare card is Australia’s trial run in the attempt to implement a global cashless society. It won’t happen, they left it too late.

    Search criteria: cashless society

    Cheers.

  8. Rowan none

    I own a small business and it seems that other small businesses will miss out on the income from people who used to buy from me. When people on this card have limited choices on where to shop small businesses will miss out, especially in tiny towns like where I live – Small businesses will go under when all the money is going to places like supermarkets.

  9. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    An excellent explanation of the fatal juggling act of being on Welfare whether it is the DSP, Newstart or otherwise.

    The Welfare Card is yet another offensive kick in the guts.

    Well done, Kathryn.

  10. stephentardrew

    I hear you Kathryn and feel your pain. Wonderful post. Breaks my heart the level of cruelty and malicious victim blame in our fake democracy.

  11. Susan

    As you say where is the Compassion & Humanity?

  12. diannaart

    As more people continue to lose their homes either because they cannot make mortgage payments or rent just got too high… as more people wind up on the streets, what will happen? A community cannot function if most of it has no home or hope.

    A false economy thought up by a duplicitous government.

  13. Percy

    VIVA LE REVOLUTION

  14. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    Yet another way to give even more tax money to Coles and Woollies, and to denigrate unfortunate people more. They truly have no idea how the majority of people in the unfortunate position of being out of work, or unable to work, actually survive. Perhaps the only way to deal with it is to start turning up at the bastards churches on a Sunday morning, or start hanging out outside their offices… Appealing to their humanity, or their logic, doesn’t seem to work, so perhaps some manner to shaming them into action needs to take place.

  15. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    That’s the way, Steve.

    Physical presence and outspokenness will force instant public relation reactions which will be bad for business or their respectability, if not seen to be taken respectfully.

  16. helvityni

    Percy, we don’t do revolutions, we don’t rock the boats, we cop it sweetly and watch finals of some NRL or AFL games…I hope I got those acronyms right…?

  17. wammm

    the idea that the poor cannot handle money and the rich have free rein to avoid tax has never been more obvious and never more wrong mentally, physically and culturally.
    This topic is the only one where I will support and vote for the diludbransims. The supporters of the basics card ideal are ignorant snobs, when rudd supported the brough scheme and cemented the political ideal of Aborigines being a homogeneus group. How ridiculous when there are hundreds of groups as different as the poms, french and turks. We let them down by not squealing against brough’s one size fits all and worse was the silence when the hugely disappointing macklin and labor not only failed to give a chance to opt out but reinforced the racism of Aboriginal cultural and mental inadequacy,
    How ridiculous is it to spend millions chasing $50 cheats and looking away whilst multi billionaires avoid obligation.
    How disgusting is it to vilify a young group of unemployed taking advantage of the rules and calling trump a ‘genius’ for avoiding tax for 20 years,
    Just as disgusting as asking for a basics card because of an Aboriginal appearance, In one case the young man had a $50 note in his hand,

    here is your chance, loonies, people like me will dump labor on this question.

  18. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes Helvi,

    how ironical when fanatical footy followers show their passion for footy that promotes elite corporates and over-paid players while ignoring far more important political moves that have all-encompassing influence on their own lives.

    Unfortunately, footy magicians have kept such people believing in fantasy lands while the real world passes them by and steals from them.

  19. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear wammm.

  20. paulwalter

    Road to Serfdom. Parallel to the Trish Corry posting but coming from ground zero, so to speak.

    How long before the country becomes an electronic POW camp?

  21. Shelley Marks

    I had the misfortune of getting the short stick of the family genetics. I had an aneurysm burst back in 2011, which in turn caused 2 strokes while being airlifted to a hospital in Melbourne. They then discovered 6 more of the little buggers waiting to burst in my brain. Since then, I have been relegated to DSP, like you Kathryn. I don’t use the handicap spaces as what I have is invisible. All they see is an able bodied person. I’m not up for arguing each time I need to park. If the government, in their so called wisdom, make us use these cards I too can see nothing but humiliation as people will judge what I have in my trolley. I too prefer to have the freedom to make my own financial decisions, restricted as it already is. I also rely on op shops to keep myself clothed and to replace appliances as needed. Prior to all of this, I worked in a high paying job for 7yrs and was on the fast track to a wonderful carer. To be stigmatised by the likes of dear old Rupert and the LNP really goes beyond the pale. I feel like they are just going to sink the boot in further while we are about as down as one can get while barely keeping a roof over our heads.

  22. Anon E Mouse

    Apparently these cards cost $6000 pp to administer and it is run by a private company with links to the Libs.
    It would be good to clarify this, and hammer it hard. Just imagine what that $6000 card cost could do for many on payments.

  23. Sandra Legro

    One of the factors of this is the division that people play along with. matters not if you worked hard, and no doubt you did, matters not if you were born with a disability and paid no tax, our country has always been about supporting those in need not abandoning them as worthless because of the limited work capacity held.
    This card is an insult to the many who have and are living fulfilling lives often enriching others with their spirits and determination to just get through the pain or associated limitations. It is not and never will be a reason to be treated like an infant with big brother closely monitoring your spending habits.
    Its not even about having employment as a single parent could be working a full time minimum wage job and still be entitled to a small assistance payment based on income from the newstart allowance. This will then trigger that persons family tax to be placed onto a card when in fact they are working full time, and whats the point of holding the family tax and maybe $50 of newstart when the person is clearly attending work and therefore not drunk, drug effected or gambling and in fact could spend their entire wage on these items.

    Government knows black markets and bartering will occur so it will only place obstacles easily overcome by those with hardened addictions who can only be helped with ongoing support and withdrawal assistance.

    Considering these things, it appears to be simply a means to channel large amounts of taxpayers money into the accounts of organisations who are allowed to coerce consumers into entering into a contract where the consumer is left with no negotiation powers at all. It could be argued the contract is unfair as the terms also allow for fees to be introduced or changed with only 20 days notice. If the consumer disagreed they do not even have the power to close the account and this is done at governments leisure regardless of if you are no longer collecting income support payments.

    Indue has recently lost the contract to supply money for star payments ATMs, and have also sold the ATM assets to star payments. How solid is indue with a large section of assets sold off on debt. Star payments was quoted in media as preferring to deal with a ‘bank’ rather than a ‘non bank’ organisation.
    Shouldnt all consumers have the choice between dealing with a bank and a non bank, is this just a way to please the unknown shareholders of the winning private organisation?

  24. Ricardo29

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, just once, we got a Welare Minister who saw it as his/her job to improve the welfare system for recipients, increase all such payments to a level where they allowed a life beyond simply existing? Such a welfare minister would also feel it was his/her job to crack down on the corporate and individual tax dodgers, would abandon negative gearing, would bring employment services back into the CES and would really tackle Super rorts. And stop the technobabble that seems to inform Christian Porter’s worldview in his latest moves against the needy.

  25. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear Ricardo29.

    anti-Christ Porter is looking less and less smug about his superior place as Minister for the SS.

    His demeanour on Q and A last night struck me as one who was very well aware of how angry people are about his uncompassionate welfare motivations and decisions.

  26. townsvilleblog

    Kathryn, I was in similar circumstances to your’s only my wife was my carer. It’s not easy to survive on DSP and will be particularly difficult for any new recipient. It is one of those situations that encourages empathy and compassion from our comrades however empathy knows no place at the cash registers of Coles or Woolworths, thank goodness for food banks and the Salvo’s.

    Porter is of the extremist ultra right wing faction within the Liberal Party, who don’t even pretend empathy or compassion, they simly hate us. The reason they do seems to me to be that we can no longer produce labour to make Liberal Party members rich or richer. Given that this Abbott/Turnbull government is currently being run by his faction Kathryn, which means anything you can buy in bulk, from yoilet rolls to washing up liquid on special buy it find a place for it because we never know from one day to the next what these fascists will do.

    And to finish, please vote Labor or Green in any preference order and place your Liberal and/or National parties last on the ballot paper, preferably Liberal last.

  27. townsvilleblog

    Ricardo29October 4, 2016 at 9:05 am Bill Hayden was such a Minister in the Whitlam government, but like Whitlam himself we have not seen his ilk for yonks.

  28. abbienoiraude

    As I read your story, Kathryn I found myself going from stressed to angry to understanding and back to anger again.

    My man has been on DSP for a long time. It has not been easy for him. He has worked since he was 13 ( washing up in a restaurant) while attending school. He has worked 2 jobs through most of our marriage and then became chronically ill. You cannot see his illnesses…( for he has many) and at times when he has had operations he relaxes as then you can witness his ‘disability’.
    The judgements if we park in a disabled park have been overt at times, but I stand tall as I reassure him he has ‘the right’.
    During Howard’s tenure Centrelink became particularly aggressive in its communications about ‘compliance’. I then intercepted ( and still do) the letters and deal with them for him as he became chronically depressed ( another addition to his illnesses) and finally I recognised the signs of ‘suicidal planning’. I took him to our GP who reassured him and helped him find the right medication ( another one!) for his mental need.

    We settled in with relief when Labor was voted in in 2007 and the threatening letters no longer arrived.
    He concentrated on his health and we were on the rounds of specialists and tests to get a handle on all his medical needs.

    We started on DSP with three small children.
    They all are now in their 30’s and all went to uni and starved their way through on Austudy far from home as we could not help them.

    Flash forward to our youngest marrying and having a child.
    2 years after making us grandparents for the first time she finally told us she was living with Domestic abuse/psychological violence/under financial abuse by a control freak.
    We went the 1300klms to bring her and the young one home and started to rebuild her self esteem and reassured her that the ‘system’ was meant to support women like her.
    Then a (Labor) politician changed the rules and she knew she had to get a job and restart her career ( after being independent since she was 17) or her ‘support’ would be cut off. Instead of our Society thinking raising your own child (especially alone) is admirable, they force the only person the child needs out into the ‘work force’ ( as if raising a toddler is not work!)

    So through no fault of my man’s or our daughter ( whose ex has now followed her here to where we live) we depend upon the welfare system.

    I am the support. I am the carer. I am the financial controller as I try to keep us afloat with specialists ‘gap’ payments, rates, bills…etc It is getting harder and harder but I took this role to ease the stress on my beloved.

    To be put on the basics card would be a bridge too far. I fear for his mental health if it reaches us, but apart from the personal the morality of such a thing disgusts me to the core.
    You are right Kathryn. It is an Orwellian way of showing the divide in our society.

    I want to fight these neoliberal changes and ideologies but as I get older I am feeling so tired. I want to keep at it for others and for us. It is so hard just to keep up with everything.

    Thank you for writing and sharing your story. You have helped me to know I am not alone.

  29. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    abbienoiraude,

    thanks also for sharing your story. The LNP Degenerates are a lost cause. They don’t care if our families struggle. They play by ‘dog eat dog’ rules and we are just the prey.

    So, it falls onto the shoulders of Labor, Greens and empathetic progressive parties and Independents to come out fighting for us hard and resolute that they won’t let any of us fall between the cracks.

    We hear lip-service from Labor about how vulnerable Aussies should not suffer but I want to see Labor walk the walk and tell us how these reprehensible measures, introduced or threatened by anti-Christ Porter, will be blocked at every measure and others already implemented, reversed and improved.

    The Greens have already shown their preparedness to stand up for vulnerable people in all walks of life. Labor has its Allies ready and waiting to help design such protections against the cruel austerity measures which Porter is itching to implement.

    We need the strong ALLiance between Greens, Labor and empathetic progressives to speak up for all our sakes because we are facing the abyss and we need their help!

  30. diannaart

    Anon E Mouse October 4, 2016 at 12:22 am

    Apparently these cards cost $6000 pp to administer and it is run by a private company with links to the Libs.
    It would be good to clarify this, and hammer it hard. Just imagine what that $6000 card cost could do for many on payments.

    After reading the above comment…. I felt I must repeat it as no one else appears to have noticed it.

    A far right-wing method to further denigrate vulnerable people will costing even more from the public purse. This has to, must be further investigated and publicised!

    The link below is all I could find in a quick search, hardly surprising given that it reveals the complete lack of morality by the federal government.

    https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/government-remains-committed-failed-income-management-scheme

    “According to the Department’s 2014 report, Place Based Income Management – Process and Short Term Outcomes Evaluation, there has been no evidence of enhanced money-management skills, better health outcomes, or reduced alcohol and tobacco consumption among those forced onto income management in Playford.

    “The report is consistent with past studies that show the policy, with its enormous cost of $4000-$6000 per person, per year, and more than $1 billion spent nationwide since 2007, is not working. This scheme is wasting resources that could fund capacity-building education, employment, and health services.”

    The Commonwealth Parliamentary Library’s 2012 paper, Is Income Management Working?, said there was “an absence of evidence relating to the effectiveness or otherwise” of the program.

    Anything further was found on the Greens website and includes a petition:

    http://greens.org.au/cashless-card

    Last year the Liberal Party and Labor Party ganged up (again) to legislate for “cashless welfare card trials” aka another patronising, paternalistic and ideologically driven attempt to manage the money and hence lives – of people living below or near the poverty line on income support.

    The Government will put 80 per cent of a person’s income support on a “cashless card” — leaving just 20 per cent spare to withdraw as cash. According to the Government, it’s meant to stop people spending money on alcohol, drugs and gambling… It won’t.

    This is a form of compulsory income management and evidence shows that doesn’t work. What it will do is take choice, control and dignity away from people trying to live off very little.

    Add your name below to send a message to the Liberal and Labor Party.

    http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1792&ea.campaign.id=47240

    Where is Labor? The people’s party?

  31. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear Anon E Mouse and diannaart,

    for highlighting such a miscarriage of justice aka Cashless Card aka Welfare Income Management.

  32. helvityni

    Jennifer what hope have we got of improving things, if Hanson’s helpers, and most likely Xenophon’s mob, are going to side with the Coalition. Talk about depressing times…

  33. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    True Helvi,

    but that is all the more reason to stand strong as an ALLiance with mutually agreed objectives and incentives for the improved benefit of vulnerable Aussies.

  34. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    I watched Christian Porter banging on about how wonderful big data was. He certainly comes across as convincing (and he appears to have fooled the poor policy wonk into believing he is doing something good). But groups of just 2,000 or 4,000 across all of Australia? How is some NGO going to be able to develop programs to help all, or even just some, of these back into work is mind blowing, particularly given that I suspect the roles of each carer, and the carers own personal capabilities and aspirations are likely to be quite different.

    The reality is that he just wants to outsource the problem. And the proof of the effectiveness of that is so clear amongst the various job finding agencies, and training providers…

  35. Greg

    The major problem isnt with far right Liberals it’s with their supporters , even though they scrapped in by the skin of their teeth in the last election they have the illusion that what they do is supported by the majority of the country. People have been fed lies , with propaganda shown in the papers and on air broadcast , I have seen families argue and almost get into fist fights over the polices of LNP . I have been on the DSP for 17 years now with my wife being my career , Looking at me you would never guess there is a thing wrong with me , even some trainee doctors without examining me or reading my medical records have dismissed me when I’m in hospital and i’m in an out of hospital every few months for days on end (some times over a week) , i’v even been told by some of those trainee doctors that I’m lazy and should exercise more , as others have said in their post on the out side everything looks fine but on the inside is a different story altogether . I been classed as chronic , with multiple failing organs (heart , lungs , kidneys and a few other things on top of that ) , I dont bitch or complain about my condition , nothing is ever going to make it better so I accept it as it is , I also have 3 disabled adult children with varies metal conditions that me and wife look after at home , we dont have any out side help or support , not even other family members at all , i have been told by all the specialist that my condition if not 100% properly looked after it will be fatal ( I’v had 2 strokes and 3 heart attacks and my heart runs out of control and they dont know why at all ) . The biggest problem for me is if the card is distributed to all then my children will not have a chance at all after I’m gone .. they cant stand stressful situations or communicate adequately enough to express what they want to others and avoid all confrontations , The oldest of them only goes out for blood test once a fortnight and to the local mental health office every few months to see the doctors , the second is a acute agoraphobic that has only left the house 4 times in the last 12 years (two were her grand parents funeral ) . When ever we have visitors she will lock herself in her room until they leave , that even includes family that do come here to visit ever few years … the last … well …. he goes out with friends but cant even read or understand bus signs or numbers and is always too scared or embarrassed to ask anyone what bus he should catch , at the moment my wife does all the grocery and clothes shopping for them , but once we are gone their conditions could be made worse or even put them in a situation that can end up being dangerous to them , even if they could order and pay for their food and clothing online with the welfare card only one of them would ever answer the door , and with everything this government is doing to people like my kids makes me sicker every day … for those who suffer from the governments actions though have a look at this page and let others know it’s there
    https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/contact-us/claiming-compensation-us

  36. babyjewels10

    Well said, Kathryn. I’m totally with you. I do what I can on social media and elsewhere to point out the unfairness and cruelty associated with this disgraceful policy.

  37. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Greg,

    I’ll help, if I can. Ask Michael and Carol for my contact details.

  38. Greg

    Thanks Jennifer , at the moment we are ok , as long they arent issued with a welfare card it’ll be ok , after that though I really dont know what will happen or what to do

  39. TuffGuy

    My take on the welfare card is to stop people buying smokes and booze and drugs with all of their free money. Sure, as with most things it is the minority that ruin things for everyone else, but to me it makes sense. Rorting the system I believe they call it and that same minority are also more than likely professional welfare recipients

  40. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    So what TuffGuy,

    if Welfare people want to buy booze, smokes, drugs and gamble? Who appointed the neoliberal dinosaurs, GOD?

    If any neoliberal dinosaurs are serious about Sufficient welfare for needy people, then their first priority MUST be to substantially INcrease it so that there is sufficient money for life’s essentials and some leftover for life’s choices.

    When the neoliberals ie LNPigs and Labor-doubtful prove they have policies to INcrease Welfare, promote funding for low-income micro businesses and engage innovate economic thinking like MMT to create higher industry and employment opportunities, then I could accommodate some limited requirement on where a portion of welfare money must be spent on essentials. NB only some.

  41. Harquebus

    Does anyone know if brewing kits can be purchased with a welfare card?

  42. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Interesting point, H.

  43. Harquebus

    You can use your BasicsCard to buy most things except excluded goods and services. Excluded goods and services are:
    alcohol
    pornography
    tobacco and tobacco products
    gambling products
    gambling services
    home-brew kits and home-brew concentrates
    https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/about-basicscard

    It appears that barter is the main method for circumventing welfare card restrictions.

    Jennifer
    Did you end up watching the Hidden Secrets of Money videos that I pointed you to?

  44. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I confess I was annoyed with your stubbornness and did not. Bad me.

  45. Harquebus

    Jennifer
    I highly recommend it and think that you will enjoy it.
    If you decide to and need the link, let me know.
    Cheers.

  46. Anon E Mouse

    @Tuffguy, are you also happy with the $6,000 per person cost of the cash card? Its a lot of money.
    That is an extra $115 per week per person. Imagine the kick the economy could do with an increase to pensions and payments of $115 per person per week.

  47. abbienoiraude

    “Tuff Guy”
    It is NOT ‘free money’.
    Please learn some economics so you will understand and debate more knowledgeably.

    You are showing your lack of compassion, empathy and ignorance by calling ‘welfare’ ‘free money’.

    We on DSP/Carers also pay GST on EVERY thing….so we too pay taxes.
    Every cent we receive gets put back into the economy…We are holding Australia together whilst our PM sends his ‘excess’ off to the Cayman Is!
    Remember…one day..it may be you or yours!
    Emotional Intelligence is vital for the future.

    (Thank you Jennifer for your comment and support. So so much appreciated….More than you will ever know!)

  48. Anon E Mouse

    Keep repeating the cost of these cards – it has got to sink in.

  49. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes H,

    I would like the link again and I promise to watch it this time and give you my feedback tomorrow.

  50. Kathryn Wilkes

    I would like to say thanks to everyone for their comments, It has come time to actually try and get the real life out to the world of people on any centrelink payment. We are human and we are still EQUAL citizens of Australia and deserve to treated as such, thus my opposition to the Welfare Debit Card, no one deserves to be segregated from society, financially or socially just because they receive their entitled legal payments that our system provides, I use the word entitled, because it is, It is in our constitution that every citizen is entitled to claim their payments, it is up to Centrelink to determine if we qualify or are eligible.
    Just some information to clarify a couple of comments I have read.
    The Welfare Debit Card is different to the Basics Card, The differences are as follows, The Welfare Debit card is 80% of the persons’ payment is placed on the card, Leaving only 20% in cash, however you can apply for a higher percentage, but at this time within the trials in Ceduna and The East Kimberly people who have applied have waited weeks to only gain and extra 10% of their cash into their banks.
    This new card has no opt out unless you can get off of Centrelink Payments. It’s cost per person is $3.100 at this time, so imagine trying to apply that to at least 2.5 Million Centrelink recipients. I find the media swing to trying to make it out as it will only apply to young carers and youth and Newstart extremely misleading as they have been banging on all through the trials that is captures all working age payments between the ages of 16-64, at this time the old age pension is not included, that is not to say that can’t be changed in the future as they are trying to change the language to include age pension as welfare, The very word welfare I find an insult, We are on income support or social security, not the slang blanket word “welfare” adopted from the US,
    Restrictions on the card are alcohol, drugs, gambling, ( playing cards in east Kimberly) as they don’t have Pokies in WA outside of the casino.
    However many of the issues with the card are actually nothing to do with banning certain products, We are seeing it will be used to control, to hand over the social security funds to a private company Indue, you can google them and the welfare trials and the non approved merchants and items within the 2 trial areas.
    I won’t rant too much here, however if you are looking to see where you can keep up to date,
    please feel free to check these sites on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/notowelfarecard/?ref=bookmarks

    Some excellent videos have been produced and can be found here:https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013534571703 Please have a look, these videos are very informative:)

    All I can say to all the people that are on any centrelink payments that are feeling stressed and feel like this country is leaving us behind, Please keep up the pressure on your MPs and Senators, and we need to stick together.
    It appears the LNP and their supporters and their right wing friends in the One Nation Party and Jacqui Lambie party have all forgotten that all of us pay our way and all of us have a right to be treated the same as the next person, we may not pay “income tax” and be so productive for employers and business, but we do keep our local economies ticking over, which in turn creates jobs and keeps many business open. Branding us as non taxed is an insult at best as many have paid income taxes for many years and paid their dues, not be treated like some alien thieving bludger, I want the old Australia back, the one that stood by the battlers and looked after our sick and elderly, and everyone had a fair go, no matter their colour, wealth, health etc,
    I don’t want to see our youth used as cheap labour and thrown on the scrapeheap when they are done, and I don;t want to see kids from less well off families missing out on a future because mum and dad, or just mum, or just dad, cannot afford to pay for the education that was once available to all.

    and despite all the welfare bashing out there, remember you are not alone, and hold the thought that it can happen to anyone, something many of the haters seem to forget,

  51. diannaart

    Thank you Kathryn

    I really appreciate your contribution, links and vital information about the ‘welfare’ card.

    Hope to see more of your work.

    Cheers

    Dianna

  52. Frustratedcarer

    Making the poor a commodity is as low as you can go.

    $4000-6000 per person per year to manage the system taken from the hands of the government and given to a private, profit making corporation. Can you do the math?

    7.1 million welfare recipients in Australia. What a cash cow! Do you think that when they get their hands on the monies of the unemployed, the sick and disabled and the carers they won’t go after the aged pensioners? Do the math.

    Three million unemployed x $6000 per year. Do you think they will ensure small businesses can’t accept their card? It is in their interest to increase unemployment. Now $1,800,0000,000 (that’s 1,8 BILLION) in management fees!

    PLUS the astronomical fees attached to using their card, why wouldn’t they want everyone to be unemployed? The card is not free to those forced into its use. There are transaction fees. At just 30 cents per transaction, and assuming just ten transactions a week (conservative estimate, considering, rent/mortgage, food, utilities, clothing, medical, fuel, registration, car repairs, haircuts – if there is enough money left, and any other expenses if the recipient has children) $3 per week, per person. 3 million people @ $3 a week, $9 million per WEEK, $468 million per year, stolen from the poor. Then transaction fees for the merchant, assuming the standard 3.5% transaction fees that banks charge merchants? A setup fees, monthly account keeping fees and the like merchants are forced into by banks?

    That’s before they get their hands on the actual welfare payments. What’s the weekly payroll? The company ‘trusted’ with the management of this abhorration, is a private, profit making corporation, who is struggling to pay it’s bills. What stops them doing what happened to Dick Smith? Sorry everyone, money isn’t available, company is in receivership. Any money you have in credit is gone. You needed groceries this week? You needed to pay your rent/mortgage? Get to your part-time or full-time job, or your ‘work obligation’? No money for you. Oops. Calling all taxpayers – you need to make up the shortfall.

    I’m like several others who have shared their story. I am a carer for my husband. He has an ‘invisible’ disability, an acquired brain injury, so many people comment about how he seems fine to them, because they don’t know him. Just over five years ago, we were sick of the way Australia was heading, into a compassionless, inhuman, fascist, authoritarian police state and we left, we thought forever. However, the acquired brain injury (caused in Australia by the carelessness of the medical system) got in the way and we lost everything we’d worked for in our new business overseas. Running out of money fast, we returned to Australia, because we weren’t allowed to stay in our adopted country without an income, we returned without options, without support, without a home, without work prospects and ended up itinerant in a caravan to keep a roof over our heads. Everyone said,’ how wonderful your lifestyle must be’. But it is not the idyllic utopia they imagine. Far from it. To live in a few square metres of space with someone who has changed so much in personality, mood swings, behaviour, lost cognitive function, lost comprehension, lost empathy and became afraid of allowing me out of his site, is not any kind of wonderful, but very much the opposite. Without enough income, the alternative choices are practically non-existent. Without a permanent home, the access to help, to care, to support is also non-existent.

    Therefore, to be branded as a bludger, incompetent with money, an addict or alcoholic is more of what we chose to leave behind. As a carer, I’ve lost massive income from not working, because to leave my husband alone while I work, is not an option. He is not competent, but he cannot understand he is not the person he was. That person was competent, efficient, highly skilled and well paid and had worked his entire life. To be branded a loser, a bludger, a blight on society, because he is permanently injured is nothing but an insult from those who are all of the former. While they throw stones, nobody is looking in their direction. Nobody is looking at their massive incompetence, their lack of morality, their complete lack of compassion, or emapthy, or caring, their lies and their stealing. All trademarks of anti-social personality disorder, aka ASPD or sociopathy.

  53. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    So very true, Frustratedcarer.

    Those same sociopaths deserve incarceration for their crimes against humanity because putting people into poverty and ensuring they stay there is a crime against humanity.

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