Vote Down the Cashless Welfare Card

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 Dear Mr Shorten,

I write to you in regard to the cashless welfare card.

I wish to raise my concerns to the continuation of the card based on a report that has apparently grossly manipulated many facts to suit a political agenda.

To highlight the point approximately 50% of trial participants said it made their life worse off, compared to 22% who said it had improved things.

Judging by the ministers recent statements and actions it seems that the anecdotal evidence of vested interests who instigated the trial in the Ceduna region are of greater weight and value than the lived experience of trial participants.

There are a number of other concerns regarding the trial. Apart from the stigma, discrimination and shame imposed on those who are forced to use the card, there is also social exclusion and the prevention of community participation in sporting and cultural events as the small amounts of cash are necessary for participating in these events.

There are issues with being able to give children an allowance or money for trips away on school camps or other outings and functions. Major issues with reliability of the indue system, the phone app and also power and communications in the trial region are all spoken of on a regular basis by many trial participants. These issues are glossed over and ignored by the department of human services and DSS.

The report into the card does not seem to stack up with the statements made by the Ministers in regard to the increase in crime within the region. Indeed, significant increases in many categories have occurred which have been totally over looked and not publicised by the minister.

As an example:

Serious Assaults not resulting in injury up 4%
Common Assault up 3%
Aggravated sexual assault up 2%
Non Aggravated sexual assault up 71 %
Robbery and related offences up 125% 
Aggravated Robbery up 150%
Non aggravated robbery up 400%

Serious criminal Trespass up 16%
Serious Criminal Tresspass up 31% up
Receive or handle proceeds of crime up 30 %
Fraud deception & Related offences up 45%
Obtain Benefit by Deception up 49% 

While revenue from Pokies machines in the area may have declined, there is some concern regarding the claims that it’s as a result of the ration card. Upon examination of statistics available from the state government, the gambling data in Ceduna seems to be in line with state-wide reductions in gambling.

Gambling revenue has fallen by 15% in SA over the 12 months to June:

It seems to have been falling over the past five years

In Ceduna, it has been on a downward trend at least since 2011/12.

I would also bring to your attention once again the inconsistencies of the trial consultation process which excluded those affected. Available evidence indicates even those consulted were lied and tricked into believing the trial was to be Targeted and Voluntary approach.

This can be demonstrated by statements made in the Guardian on Monday 9 January 2017:

“Minutes from a meeting of more than 100 people from Ceduna and the surrounding towns taken in November 2015 note that the Yalata elder Mima Smart, a medal of the Order of Australia recipient for her services to the Aboriginal community, supported the card “for some, not for all”. She signed up to the card on behalf of the Yalata community, 200km west of Ceduna on the Great Australian Bight.” 

“The chair of the Maralinga Tjarutja Council, Keith Peters, told attendees, including Senator Nick Xenophon and the then assistant minister for social services, Alan Tudge, that he did not support the card. No one at the meeting supported universal application of the card to everyone on welfare in the community, the minutes said”

This is once again highlighted in a letter article Tuesday 14 March 2017:   

“But a respected elder in the South Australian remote community of Yalata, Mima Smart, who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her work with Aboriginal people in her community, was shocked to learn the trial had been extended. Yalata is included in the Ceduna trial.

“This is not good enough,” Smart said. “Cancel it. Think about the people that are suffering and the young people on it, who don’t understand how to fill out the paperwork.”

Smart was one of the elders who signed up to the trial on behalf of her community. But she says she was misled about how the trial would work. “I thought when it was first talked about in the past, I thought it was going to be for the main people that hang out in Ceduna drinking and causing trouble, and not the people living in Ceduna who don’t drink and get into trouble.

“I didn’t think it would be for the people who do look after their kids. I thought the cashless card would be targeted.”

Those statements are also backed up by Maureen and Keith signing documents seeking to dissolve the Memorandum of understanding in early 2016 when it was apparent that the wishes of their communities were being ignored.

I am aware that documentation was tabled in parliament to enable the continuance of the trial for a further 6 months and is yet to be reviewed or voted on by either the house or Senate.

I have noted that Senator Lambie is seeking to introduce a bill into the Senate calling on the "Government to support the inclusion in the upcoming Budget for a further rollout of the CDC for all persons 17 years of age and under who are on ABSTUDY (Living Allowance), Assistance for Isolated Children, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, Parenting Payment Partnered, Parenting Payment Single, Special Benefit, Youth Allowance (apprentice), Youth Allowance (other), Youth Allowance (student) across Australia on 1 January 2018."

I would ask you to give serious consideration to propose to disallow the continuance of the trial or support any motions proposed to disallow it.

Yours Faithfully 

David Pav

Ceduna S.A.

 



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