Abstract: We offer this submission to assist the deliberations of the Committee regarding the Cashless Debit Card. Having looked thoroughly at the evidence and policy context, we provide a number of observations. We do not believe that available evidence supports the proposition that either the compulsory Cashless Debit Card or income management in the Northern Territory are making substantive, positive contributions to the vast majority of participants’ lives and effectively addressing the challenges these communities face. Furthermore, despite efforts to improve the technical performance of the Cashless Debit Card, the program continues to have unintended negative consequences for some participants. Evidence we have examined suggests that the program may be useful for some individuals as a voluntary measure or if adopted on a case-by-case basis according to strict criteria, in conjunction with the provision of case management and ‘wrap around’ support services to that individual. We also recognise that policy making must be based on both evidence and principles. We appreciate that the Prime Minister has recently embraced the principle of shared decision-making with First Nations and listening to Indigenous voices in policy impacting on them. The proposed legislative policy change will have significant and disproportionate impact on First Nations people, and that principle should apply. Furthermore, there is an opportunity-cost in alternative, more effective measures foregone in continuing this program. Different policies can tackle the issues more successfully. While we believe that the current evidence does not support the continuation of a mandatory CDC or income management in the Northern Territory, it would be prudent for Parliament to await the public release of the Second Impact Evaluation. At the very least, Members of Parliament and Senators should pause their deliberation on this Bill until after that evaluation report is released and its findings can be digested by affected communities and this Committee.
Dreise, T, Hunt, J, Markham, F, 2020, Submission to Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Inquiry into the Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Continuation of Cashless Welfare) Bill 2020, Hearing, viewed 04 December 2021, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=21697.