Say No to the Cashless Debit Card! If the cashless debit card (CDC) is rolled out across Australia, this will affect YOU! The cashless debit card (CDC) is an income management program that has been trialled in a handful of sites around the country. The CDC is compulsory for all Centrelink recipients including DSP (in most sites) & Newstart. Aged pensions are excluded. The CDC quarantines 80% of your payment. This would limit your access to: -online shopping -purchases from markets or second-hand shops -cash payments to helpers The Senate is likely to vote on an expansion (to include the Northern Territory) and extension of the CDC trial in the next few weeks, and it’s likely that some time this year the government will present legislation to make the program national. In all the discussions among politicians about the CDC, we’ve not seen anything about the impact of the card on people with chronic illnesses like ME/CFS, and we think there should be. Now is the time to act! Can you send a quick, low energy email? A template letter and instructions are provided below. POLITICAL BACKGROUND The government has legislation in the Senate to extend the trial for another year and expand it to all of the Northern Territory. There are also strong signs that they plan to expand the program nationally to anyone of working age receiving social security payments. Senator Jacqui Lambie and Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie (Mayo, SA) have just done “fact finding missions”, visiting communities where the card has been implemented to understand how the card is working. Senator Lambie and the Centre Alliance votes are critical, and now is the time that they’re formulating their opinions about the card. So we are asking the community to write letters to these key politicians to let them know how the CDC will impact people like you and ask them to vote against expanding and extending the trial. HOW TO JOIN ME ADVOCACY NETWORK AUSTRALIA’s CAMPAIGN! 1. LOW ENERGY OPTION We’ve developed a template letter, with five key points. Choose the points that are meaningful to you. Download the template letters from here: Senate Lambie: https://app.box.com/s/v0zfxggjhxnciygr21u18eku9ip1m5j6 Rebekha Sharkie: https://app.box.com/s/97sowpbep9dz4jr18ca3hi9wxw3c5322 2. MEDIUM ENERGY OPTION Add some personal story. Politicians pay much more attention to individualised and personal letters. For example, describe your life with ME/CFS and how the CDC would make it even more difficult. Use emotive (but not abusive) language. 3. Send the letter to one or more of these politicians: Senator Jacqui Lambie: firstname.lastname@example.org Rebekha Sharkie MP (Centre Alliance Party): Rebekha.Sharkie.email@example.com If you live in either Tasmania or South Australia, your letter will be especially crucial! Please remember to include your address on your letter, so they know you’re from their state. Emails/letters from other states are important and WILL get through but you will probably not receive a reply. 4. Please let us know that you’ve sent a letter by leaving a comment on this post. This letter writing campaign will end after the vote has been taken in the Senate. This may occur late February – March. We will keep you updated. BACKGROUND ON THE SCHEME WHAT IS THE CASHLESS DEBIT CARD? The cashless debit card (CDC) is an income management program which the government has implemented for some people on social security payments. The program involves quarantining 80% of the individual’s social security payment onto the card, leaving only 20% available as cash. There are restrictions on where the card can be used to shop (for example, the CDC can’t be used on eBay). The government has claimed that the purpose of the card is to reduce gambling and substance abuse among those looking for work. The argument is that if people can’t buy these things, then they’re less likely to be an obstacle to finding work. The card has been strongly criticised and opposed by welfare groups and addiction treatment groups for adding additional hardship, restrictions and stigma to already vulnerable populations, and for lacking evidence that it works. The CDC program is compulsory for those on the relevant payments living in the trial sites. PLANS FOR EXPANSION The government has indicated its plans to expand the program nationally. If it does so, it is likely that it will be rolled out to everyone of working age receiving a social security payment, whether they’re jobseekers or not. As part of this planned expansion, the government is reframing the CDC from being a tool to manage addictions, to being a “financial literacy tool”, claiming it will help low income people to better manage their money. There’s no evidence that it helps money management. Just the opposite in fact. We should note that the legislation for the national rollout has not yet been developed, so nothing is definite. There is still scope for the national rollout to be voted down completely, or for the legislation (when it is presented) to be modified. When the legislation for a national rollout is presented in parliament, we will expand this advocacy campaign to target more politicians. Please share widely, especially with groups or people you know in Tasmania or South Australia!