Uniting Communities welcomes the position taken by Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) to block the Coalition Government’s intention to expand the Cashless Debit Card trial on a national basis.

While the Greens have opposed the Card from the outset, Labor and NXT have indicated that the existing two trials should continue for another 12 months during which time a ‘proper evaluation’ will be undertaken.

Susan Tilley of Uniting Communities: “It’s welcome news that Labor and NXT have recognized that the evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card Trial was highly problematic and in no way constitutes a sound evidence base for the generalized expansion to further trial sites. However, the evidence is already very clear that this Card has made life worse for most people who are on it and that there’s a broad-based rejection of the Card by affected communities. It’s disappointing that there’s support for the life of the Card to be extended in the two trial sites for another year, thereby continuing to subject people to an expensive, punitive and intrusive income management system.”

In considering alternatives to the Card, Susan Tilley says, “There’s no quick fix but the Card is an inappropriate and misdirected response to the needs identified by communities. What’s needed is a suite of integrated and comprehensive social services. These need to be developed in conjunction with communities, who have for many years called for services such as youth programs, financial counselling, family violence services, housing, rehabilitation, and, most importantly, access to decent jobs. A blanket one-size-fits all approach must be avoided. What’s needed is genuine community engagement and a response from Government that is compassionate and not punitive”.



The Cashless Debit Card quarantines 80% of a person’s income support payment to a debit card which does not allow spending on alcohol, drugs gambling. As from March/April 2016, it has been trialled in two sites – Ceduna and the Far West Coast of South Australia, and in Kununurra and Wyndham in Western Australia.

ORIMA Research was contracted by the Department of Social Services to conduct the evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card Trial in the two trial sites.


For media comment:

Susan Tilley, Advocacy Unit, Uniting Communities.

Mobile: 0437320954