TOUGH TIMES: Brooke Hadley, 19 says it is hard to get ahead.
TOUGH TIMES: Brooke Hadley, 19 says it is hard to get ahead. Jodie Callcott

Young jobseeker says cashless card punishes everyone

FOR as long as she can remember, Brooke Hadley has felt defined by circumstances she claims are beyond her control.

Forced to move out of home as a teenager in a town with some of the most unenviable unemployment rates, Ms Hadley found herself alone in a world of crime and poverty.

Now she's one of 6,000 people in line for a trial which will remind her where her place in society is.

The cashless card she says, is being enforced by the same system she believes has so far failed her.

She insists she doesn't want sympathy but thinks it's important for others to hear her story and get an insight into how someone being placed on the card might feel.

The 19-year-old works 25 hours a week at Meals on Wheels as a volunteer and desperately wants to be seen as an equal.

"I feel as though I'm going to be judged every day of my life as soon as this card comes out for the simple fact I'm handing over a card that's identifiable," Ms Hadley said.

"You've got taxpayers saying how the card is going to improve the community, but it's not.

"They're too blind to see some people aren't so good in life, some people are struggling but are good people.

"We're not all drug addicts, we're not all bad people, it's just the way we're portrayed from the other side, because we don't have the money, we don't have the luxury that others have."

Those receiving Centrelink's Newstart Allowance like Ms Hadley, are required to attend relevant training, report any earnings and apply for a minimum of 20 jobs a fortnight.

If those commitments aren't met, participants lose demerit points, and in extreme cases, payments are ceased for six weeks.

Ms Hadley believes the cashless card is another blow to those already struggling and will increase homelessness in the region.

"As a young person when you first move out of home everyone wants references, a rental history but it's not easy," she said.

"I went into a private rental and I was working for cash in hand, so I paid my rent in cash.

"You've already got homeless people on the street, that's going to increase, just by the simple fact people cannot pay their rent the same way they used to."

Doing most of her shopping in op shops and without money for hair and beauty services, Ms Hadley said being under groomed also made it hard to stand out at job interviews.

"It's like you're being held under water and one day you're not going to be able to breathe, and this card is going to push so many people under water that far that they're not going to know how to get out."