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Priya Kunjan

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Thread on Labor's announcement regarding the end of the Cashless Debit Card and a new "enhanced" income management card 👇 theguardian.com/australia-news…

Legislation to end mandatory scheme delayed by death of Queen Elizabeth II but now expected to pass next week

theguardian.com/australia-news…

Australia’s cashless debit card to become voluntary from 4 October, Labor says

For clarity: the Cashless Debit Card/CDC is a program of compulsory income management via welfare quarantining that began in 2015. It can't be used to purchase alcohol, gambling products, some gift cards or to withdraw cash. It disproportionately targets First Nations people.

It operates in the Ceduna, East Kimberley, Goldfields, and Bundaberg and Hervey Bay regions, as well as in the Northern Territory and Cape York, where it was intended to replace income management under the BasicsCard.

Income Management/IM is a program of largely compulsory income management via welfare quarantining that began in 2007 under the Intervention (requiring suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975) and has been progressively amended and expanded.

It became normalised and entrenched as a policy measure under Labor in 2010- the issue of the suspended RDA was addressed by reinstating it + expanding the scheme beyond prescribed Indigenous communities in the NT. It now also applies in select areas of NSW, QLD, WA, SA and VIC.

IM primarily targets First Nations people and operates across a number of streams. It is administered via the BasicsCard, which can't be used to purchase alcohol, pornography, tobacco, gambling products/services, home-brew equipment, gift cards or vouchers, or to withdraw cash.

On the new "enhanced" card: sure, this addresses the issue of third-party income management, but the fundamental policy rationale remains intact. Govt is happy to continue punitive compulsory IM for those people- primarily Indigenous people- who have languished on it the longest.

Explanatory Memorandum for the CDC repeal bill: "A further Bill, to be introduced later in 2022 after consultations with affected areas and communities, will address the transition for individuals who access income management arrangements after their exit from the CDC program."

The brief delay caused by the queen's death can't be used to justify kicking the can of IM down the road for a further 18 months, delaying the promised second bill and presumably renewing the suite of instruments enabling IM set to expire on 1 Oct with no indication of end date.

DSS' latest figures (as at 2 Sep) show that there are 17,193 people currently on the CDC. 4,317 are in the NT (79% Indigenous), 98 in Cape York (92% Indigenous, managed under Family Responsibilities Commission). All will go back onto IM once the CDC ends. data.gov.au/data/dataset/a…

DSS' latest figures (as at 2 Sep) list 22,448 people across all IM streams in the NT. Figures across other jurisdictions: WA 611, QLD 607, SA 366, VIC >110, NSW >92. data.gov.au/data/dataset/a…

To hammer home the punitive and arbitrary logic of compulsory IM, consider the rationale of the stream Long Term Welfare Payment Recipients and Disengaged Youth (NT-only). DSS states this covers "people in the Northern Territory who have been out of work or study for some time."

15,528 people in the NT are in the Long Term Welfare Payment Recipient Stream, and 4,592 people are "Disengaged Youth." Together, this accounts for 89.6% of people subject to IM in the NT, on it because they are out of work/their work is not valued. How is this different to CDC?

Abolishing the CDC while retaining compulsory IM in the NT and other areas goes against all evidence and signals that government is happy with this dehumanising form of welfare conditionality as long as it primarily affects Indigenous people. They, we are told, can simply wait.

Measuring the social impact of income management in the Northern Territory: An updated analysis - JR Bray, 2020 caepr.cass.anu.edu.au/research/publi…

Income management policies have been in place in the Northern Territory since 2007. These policies limit how recipients of government income support payments can spend a proportion of these funds.

caepr.cass.anu.edu.au/research/publi…

Measuring the social impact of income management in the Northern

Income management policies have been in place in the Northern Territory since 2007. These policies limit how recipients of government income support payments can spend a proportion of these funds.

Evaluation of New Income Management in the Northern Territory - 2014 dss.gov.au/families-and-c…

Drop in birth weights and school attendance could be linked to NT welfare restrictions - 2018 lifecoursecentre.org.au/news/drop-in-b…

More detail on IM and the CDC from the Parliamentary Library: aph.gov.au/About_Parliame…

Happy to be corrected on calculations/dates, did this first thing in the morning. Point still stands. Social security payments need to be at a liveable rate + provided w/o harmful conditionality, which runs on a spectrum from "mutual obligations" to forced welfare quarantining.

Priya Kunjan

@PriyaKunjan

South Indian PhD candidate researching resistance, representation, critical race + Indigenous studies. On @3CR Thurs Brekky, line at @WomenOnTheLine. They/them.

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