The federal government will announce a cashless welfare card in the two Queensland cities of Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, to commence in 2018.
Western Australian cities Kununurra and Kalgoorlie already have a similar card in place, as the idea of quarantined cash could move its way around Australia into major cities.
The cards will be rolled out in order to put an end to welfare recipients using taxpayer’s money for the wrong reasons, which includes drugs, booze and gambling. Receivers will also be disabled to withdraw cash.
The card will apply to anyone under the age of 35, who receives dole and parenting payments.
The decision was made following several community consultations, where it was revealed there were significant alcohol, drug and gambling problems among young families.
It is a major confirmation as Bundaberg, an urban area also known as the “dole capital of Australia”, is one of Australia’s most prominent unemployment regions.
Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said the region’s plethora of social problems is what sparked the idea.
“We’re concerned about the impacts on drugs, alcohol and gambling, particularly being used by families and children being neglected in the process,” Tudge told the ABC.
“At the end of the day it’s not their money, it’s taxpayers’ money which is being provided for the basics – accommodation, food, transportation, education.
“Welfare is not provided to support an alcohol habit, a drug habit, a gambling habit.”
Tudge spoke to media today regarding the new welfare system.
— April Clarke (@AprilClarke_9) September 21, 2017
Mr Tudge is hopeful that the card will help many young people realise it is important to find a job.
“Importantly, we also hope the card will provide an added incentive for young people to work,” he said.
“Bundaberg and Hervey Bay has particularly high levels of youth unemployment and inter-generational welfare dependence … this is despite some jobs being available.
“You can opt out of it [the card] by getting a job.”
Despite the government’s positive angle on the reason for the card’s implementation, the scheme may not be without its negative implications.
The social impact of using these cards is one of the concerns that have been raised by Bundaberg residents, according to NewsMail.
But Bundaberg local Tiahna Fyfe, 19, is adamant the card is being brought in for all the right reasons.
“If you are responsible with your money it will last you the fortnight,” Fyfe told the Courier Mail.
“I get $440 a fortnight. If you are going out and buying cigarettes your money won’t last the fortnight.
“Cut out the drugs, alcohol and smokes. If you can’t buy any alcohol with these cards kids are going to get dinner at the end of the night,” Fyfe said.
It is believed more than 6,000 residents will be forced to begin the scheme at the start of next year. Other will be allowed to voluntarily opt for the card if they wish.