Feargal McGovern Anti Poverty Network organiser is pushing against the cashless welfare card in Ipswich.
Feargal McGovern Anti Poverty Network organiser is pushing against the cashless welfare card in Ipswich. Cordell Richardson

Cashless card warning: Group's 'Ipswich rollout' concern

WELFARE organisations are preparing for the Federal Government's controversial Cashless Debit Card to be rolled out in Ipswich.

Rumours about the government's consideration to introduce the card to Ipswich have sent shockwaves across the community.

The QT revealed in January Ipswich was in the government's sights for the expansion of the trial, which has divided areas in which it operates.

Under the program, 20per cent of a person's welfare payment goes in their usual bank account while 80per cent is put onto the Cashless Debit Card.

A spokeswoman for Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the consideration was ongoing.

"The government has not made any decisions about further trial sites,” she said.

"The government works with communities interested in the Cashless Debit Card when determining trial sites.”

Volunteers from Anti Poverty Network have set up a stall outside Ipswich's Centrelink to warn people about "what's going to happen and building a community opposition”.

"We're informing them why the card is a bad thing,” said Ipswich organiser Feargal McGovern, who claimed the card "demonises poor people”.

"It's been shown not to help where it's been introduced.”

Mr McGovern said the card was not a cost-effective way for people to spend their money.

"They can't go to op-shops, farmers' markets or second-hand stores,” he said, describing the card as an "economic apartheid for people on welfare”.

"Everything is being punished for the problems of a few - these aren't bad people.

"Not everyone in poverty has a drug addiction or a gambling addiction.”

The Anti Poverty Network is a made up by people on Centrelink for people on Centrelink, Mr McGovern said.

He said the card would not help people get a job.

"It treats people like children and it won't help people avoid using substances,” he said.

"It just creates a black market.”

Mr McGovern said the network would campaign against the card coming to Ipswich.

"It would lead to an increase in crime,” he said.

According to the Federal Government, the Cashless Debit Card "is working”.

It argues anecdotal evidence has shown people are better able to save money; parents have more money available to buy essential family items like nappies, food and clothing; police report fewer domestic violence callouts and health workers report fewer domestic violence presentations; and people say their towns feel quieter and safer with less public drunkenness.

The card has been legislated for people on welfare in the East Kimberley, Ceduna, Goldfields, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay regions until 2020.

Cashless Debit Card participants can apply to exit the program if they can demonstrate reasonable and responsible financial management.