Cashless Welfare Card Forum - Senator Anthony Chrisholm.
Cashless Welfare Card Forum - Senator Anthony Chrisholm.

RIGHT TO KNOW: Cashless card forum questions posed to department

MEMBERS of the public at a cashless debit card community forum this week expressed concern about their right to know.

During the meeting, hosted by Senator Anthony Chrisholm at the Mantra Hervey Bay, concerns were voiced about the cashless welfare card’s tender process, statistics to evaluate the success of the card trial and clarity involving the opt-out process.

Residents’ frustrations mirror those by journalists whose questions go unanswered or are censored.

When approached by the Chronicle, a Department of Social Services spokesman said the department undertook five procurement processes for the card provider for the cashless debit card.

“These processes resulted in the engagement of Indue Limited as the card provider in each of the current trial sites,” the spokesman said this week.

“Indue was selected as the most suitable provider as it demonstrated its ability and experience in dealing with government payments and demonstrated value for money.

“The details of the contract are available on AusTender.”

The department failed to answer questions posed about how the tender process was advertised and if it was open to any business.

In response to questions about statistics relating to the success of the card in regard to crime, unemployment and the number of people receiving welfare, the department spokesman said the two-year trial would be “fully-evaluated”.

“The Future of Employment and Skills Research Centre at the University of Adelaide is currently conducting a second independent impact evaluation of the cashless debit card and includes the Ceduna, East Kimberley and Goldfields site,” he said.

“The university is also finalising a baseline data collection for the site (Hinkler) which will provide a strong foundation for a potential future impact evaluations.”

During the forum several people expressed frustration about being refused in the opt-out process for varying reasons.

A woman asked Senator Chrisholm about clarity on the standards needed to opt out of the cashless card.

The department did not answer questions about clarifying the opt-out condition “reasonable and responsible management” of financial affairs, instead referring to the information already available on its website.

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