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'War on the Poor': Cashless welfare card slammed for limiting opportunities for families

Published: 23 October 2019

National president of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), Christine Craik, told NITV News that the official line for initiating the program was misguided.

“I think if you are talking about wanting to intervene and assist in communities that could be participating in behaviours that aren’t particularly the best behaviours that there could be, I think you need to look at why people behave in certain ways,” she said.

“So you need to look at inter-generational trauma… you need to look at peoples mental health issues, you need to look at a whole range of reasons that are causing issues in communities if there are some.”

Ms Craik said that instead of focusing on data and statistics, governments must listen to the experiences of people who are currently using the card and re-evaluate if they are necessary.

“Unless you are talking to people who are living it, you are not getting the true information that you need in order to be able to make decisions,” she said. “I think [the card] increases stigma and shame," she said.

"We see it as a war on the poor... it is restricting people on welfare to about $200 dollars a month."

Ms Craik also said the cards are impacting school participation as children from families on the cashless welfare card are often not able to access to the same opportunities as other kids, said Ms Craik.

“If you’re trying to get your kids to school, every year there are different textbooks, there's different uniforms, there’s different excursions, there’s different camps, there's different things that come up where you have to have cash,” she said. “It is very much disadvantaging children.”

'War on the Poor': Cashless welfare card slammed for limiting opportunities for families

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers