Media Release by Senator the Hon Anne Ruston

More choice for Income Management participants

From today about 25,000 Income Management participants in the Northern Territory can now volunteer to transfer from the BasicsCard to the Cashless Debit Card.

This delivers on the Morrison Government’s commitment to ensure social security recipients have access to the best technology to manage their money and overcome social harm.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the Cashless Debit Card had become one of the most sophisticated bank cards in Australia.

“The Cashless Debit Card operates like a regular bank card giving participants choice over where and how they shop,” Minister Ruston said.

“We know the BasicsCard has limitations. This is why we are working to ensure the Cashless Debit Card is accepted at almost one million EFTPOS terminals nationwide compared with the BasicsCard which only allows participants to shop at about 17,000 merchants.

“The Cashless Debit Card also enables participants to shop and pay bills online, use contactless purchasing, set recurring deductions and make transfers to other Cashless Debit Card accounts, which are features not available on the BasicsCard.”

Income Management participants interested in volunteering for a Cashless Debit Card can visit a Services Australia Service Centre, speak to the Services Australia Remote Servicing Team or call the Cashless Debit Card Hotline for more information.

“Cashless welfare is not about controlling where welfare payments are spent but seeks to limit the amount of taxpayer-funded social security which is used for alcohol and gambling products,” Minister Ruston said.

“We know this program helps limit the ability for problem consumption to cause social harm for individuals, their families and communities.”

The Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Continuation of Cashless Welfare) Bill 2020 which passed last year also enabled the Government to transition Income Management participants in Cape York, Queensland, to the Cashless Debit Card today.

The Government is working with community leaders in Cape York and the Northern Territory and has committed $17.5 million in funding to bolster transitional support services for participants.

In addition the Bill extended the Cashless Debit Card program to 31 December 2022 and also allowed residents in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region to volunteer for the program.

Further information about the Cashless Debit Card is available on the Department of Social Services website.