13 November 2020

ANU’s Elise Klein: “[T]he government continues to rely on anecdotes and the widely criticised 2017 evaluation by ORIMA Research as ‘proof’ for the roll out of the Cashless Debit Card. In 2018, the Australian National Audit Office found the ORIMA evaluation was methodologically flawed and unable to provide any credible conclusions regarding the real impact of the trial.” Meanwhile: “Peer-reviewed research has consistently shown the card, and income management more broadly, do not meet policy objectives. A 2020 academic study of multiple locations found compulsory income management ‘can do as much harm as good’. Survey respondents reported not having enough cash for essential items, while the research found the card ‘can also stigmatise and infantilise users’. My research examining the card in the East Kimberley shows it makes life more difficult for people subjected to it, including making it harder to manage money. People also reported the card made it more difficult to buy basic goods such as medicine and groceries. Other research from the Life Course Centre suggests compulsory income management has been linked to a reduction of birth weight and school attendance. The majority of these children are First Nations kids. … The protracted life of the Cashless Debit Card … shows the continued slow violence against thousands of Australians who deserve much better from elected officials and the structures set up to support them.”