The Cashless Card will be rolled out in Hinkler in the new year.
The Cashless Card will be rolled out in Hinkler in the new year. Alistair Brightman

OPINION: Clearing up confusion on the cashless card

GENUINE curiosity led me to the website of the Department of Social Services to find out for myself some more information about the Cashless Debit Card.

I am too time poor to read the endless inflammatory Facebook comments both for and against the card.

As an observation, both camps seem to be fighting a passionate and emotional but often misinformed fight.

It also seems that the misinformation is cutting both ways.

There is debate about who is affected, how it actually works, how to pay bills and rent and whether business will be affected.

There are also deeper questions being asked about personal autonomy, paternalism and self-determination.

While the Department of Social Services couldn't answer the philosophical questions for me, there is nothing like going directly to the source for information.

The Department of Social Services had a lot of useful information and cut through the online misinformation.

Interestingly the card is being introduced in places where high levels of welfare dependence co-exist with high levels of social harm.

Regardless of whether you are for or against the introduction of the card itself, Bundaberg fits that criteria in countless ways.

One only needs to spend a morning in the magistrates court to witness the most miserable personal circumstances as a result of drug abuse and alcohol misuse in our community.

The reason I went looking for information was to assess what would happen during a natural disaster, noting that Mother Nature has not been kind to Bundaberg in recent years.

As it turns out, this has been considered and emergency payment steps are in place if required.

The effectiveness of what is essentially compulsory finance management remains to be seen, but time will tell if these measures will positively change conditions for vulnerable folks in our community.

Edwina Rowan is a Bundaberg lawyer and chair of Edon Place