Voluntary Cashless Debit Card scheme fails to ease concerns of NT community groups

Florance/ December 11, 2020/ Education

Aboriginal and community organisations in the Northern Territory say they are worried the Federal Government will try and force welfare recipients onto its Cashless Debit Card (CDC) situs slot online scheme.

The Coalition’s controversial bill to extend the scheme passed the Senate late on Wednesday after some last-minute amendments.

The trial will continue for another two years in the current sites rather than become permanent, and the CDC will expand into the Northern Territory on a voluntary basis.

But some organisations say they do not trust the Commonwealth to support welfare recipients who choose to stay on the current Basics Card.

“I think that there will be some consultations out in remote communities, I very much doubt they will be in language, and they will be purporting all the benefits of the card without advising Aboriginal people living in remote communities of the incredible risks of rolling over to this card,” said Deborah Di Natale, the CEO of the NT Council of Social Service.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston previously said that under the CDC program, NT recipients would get 50 per cent of their welfare payments in cash and the other half would be loaded on the card, which could not be spent on alcohol or gaming.

But Ms Di Natale flagged concerns about this being changed with little notice for recipients.

“At the whim of the minister, their income can go from a 50 per cent quarantine to an 80 per cent quarantine,” she said.

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