Final round of submissions
After some delay and procrastination, I have finally read what appears to be the last release of submissions to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee for the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017.
In this round, there were a few more organisational submissions, from some big names like the St Vincent de Paul Society and Uniting Communities. There is a submission from our friends at Say No Seven. There is also an individual submission from a resident of Ceduna who has followed the Cashless Debit Card all the way through and recounts her experiences, as well as a submission on behalf of a Kununurra action group who continue to object to the program being implemented in their region. There was also a submission from Indue, which sought to rebut some of the claims made about Indue., hence I considered this an ‘Other’ submission as it made no specific comments on the legislative amendment. Finally, the new ‘Unknown’ is for the confidential submisions for which I don’t know the position off. I think we can make an educated guess that they are against the amendment bill, but since it’s only a guess, it gets its own category.
As always, you can view the tracker spreadsheet here (now with three graphs on the second sheet for those who like graphs), view or sync with my cache of the submissions, or you can get them directly from the Senate Inquiry submissions page.
If you wish to read some really detailed and well-written submissions, I strongly recommend you read either the St Vincent de Paul Society (#163) and Uniting Communities (#169)… they are long, but very detailed, and provide some much needed evidence-based recommendations and views as to how the government could improve the situation of people on social security payments, rather than drive them further into depression and poverty.
Finally, in summing up, a couple of quotes from some of the submissions this round:
The evaluations of New Income Management in the Northern Territory and the Cashless Debit Card are not conclusive or consistent across participants and their communities. There is no evidence to support community-led changes or long term behaviour changes
162, Northern Territory Government
The CDC is a blunt measure driven by ideology rather than evidence, and it risks compounding some of the very factors that contribute to ongoing disadvantage and disempowerment among those on low incomes.
And if the Government is genuinely committed to tackling complex social and health issues, such as alcohol and drug addiction, we encourage it to support initiatives that are grounded in evidence and implemented in genuine partnership with communities.
163, St Vincent de Paul Society
I do not drink alcohol of any kind and do not smoke, do not use drugs, do not gamble, and quite frankly, am insulted that the Government would label me as one who does.
164, Name Withheld
The money spent on this Trial would be better spent on providing comprehensive and appropriate services to those who need them. The evidence and reports from communities clearly indicate that the implementation of the Card does not achieve the results that are being claimed by Government and, that instead, it causes distress, shame and hardship to people.
The current Cashless Debit Card program is entrenching poverty. Not only is it entrenching welfare dependency, it is entrenching decision-making dependency and a loss of people’s autonomy – the imposition of the Card removes people’s sense of agency and could result, over time, in people becoming enculturated into a pattern of relying on government to make decisions that affect their private lives and choices.
It is alarming that the Government sees fit to implement a punitive program that is costing a great deal of money to administer, and that has proven to be deeply unpopular with those who have been subjected to the experiment to date.
169, Uniting Communities
Personally I would question not only how socially responsible the mandatory application of the card is, but I would also question how fiscally responsible the current mandatory approach Is when the trial in fact indiscriminately targets people who are clearly behaving responsibly.
To put things in a wider context I would also ask how many government programs are still in operation when they waste $750,000 dollars of every $1,000,000 dollars in expenditure. In my view such wasted expenditures would be better directed at the 25% of welfare recipients who actually really do need genuine assistance, Above all I can’t help but wonder how significant improvements could be made to the lives of welfare recipients if they were delivered much better wrap around community services…
170, Name Withheld, Ceduna Resident
This card is causing shame for the people, it is disempowering already vulnerable people rather than addressing drug, alcohol and addiction abuse in this region. Programs such as this should be designed with our community in a consultative manner. Furthermore, those people and families affected by these programs should be provided with the appropriate support to take control of their own finances and deal with any addiction, mental health problems or impacts of trauma.
171, Ms Beverley Walley and Ms Gailene Chulung