The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) and Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) write to oppose the expansion of the cashless debit card trials set out in the Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Income Management and Cashless Welfare) Bill 2019.
The bill would expand the trials of the cashless debit card (CDC) in three locations – East Kimberly and the Goldfields region of Western Australia, and Ceduna in South Australia – from their scheduled end date of 30 June 2019 to 30 June 2020.
- For people captured by the CDC trials, 80 per cent of their social security payments are quarantined. It is a blanket measure and involves no assessment of an individual’s circumstances or ability to manage their finances.
- There is no clear process for linking people with wrap-around support services despite the purported goal of the CDC being to address alcohol, drug and gambling addiction.
- Many people without alcohol, drug or gambling problems are dragged into this controlling measure, which the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists has described as being inappropriate to respond to people experiencing addiction disorders.
- The trials target, and disproportionately impact upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and women, with 75 per cent of people captured by the trial in Ceduna, and 80 per cent in East Kimberly identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
It is inappropriate for the government to expand such a blanket, rights-limiting and discriminatory measure on the East Kimberly, Ceduna and Goldfields regions in the absence of any reliable evidence to justify the significant limitation of rights, together with the free, prior and informed consent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples disproportionately targeted by the trials.