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Law Council of Australia


Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017

The cashless debit card was initially introduced following the enactment of the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015 (Cth) (2015 Bill).

The 2015 Bill provided for a ‘trial’ of the cashless debit card, which was ultimately rolled out in two communities, Ceduna and East Kimberley. In those communities, any workingage welfare recipients had 80% of their welfare entitlement linked to the cashless debit card, which could not be withdrawn as cash nor spent on alcohol, drugs or gambling, other than lottery tickets.

The remaining 20% of the welfare entitlement was available in cash.1 The objectives of the cashless debit card were outlined as being:

reducing immediate hardship and deprivation, reducing violence and harm, encouraging socially responsible behaviour, and reducing the likelihood that welfare payment recipients will be subject to harassment and abuse in relation to their welfare payments.2

The Bill seeks to remove section 124PF of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 (Cth), which limits the trial of the cashless debit card to three sites, to no more than 10 000 people and states that it will end on 30 June 2018. This restriction has been removed to enable the expansion of the program to further sites that will be specified by delegated legislation.3 On 1 September 2017, the Government announced that the cashless debit card will be rolled out in the Goldfields, Western Australia, from early 2018 following a ‘successful trial’ in Ceduna and East Kimberley.4

You can read the full submission below.


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