1 May 2015 | General Interest
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, has again raised doubts about the proposed trial of a cashless welfare card system.
“The proposal is likely to have a disproportionate impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians,” Mr Gooda said.
“When this idea emerged out of the Andrew Forrest ‘Creating Parity’ report last year, I said these radical reforms would require much more discussion and assessment. To my knowledge, this has not taken place.”
The system, which would see nearly everyone in need of welfare provided with a cashless welfare card, was proposed in the Andrew Forrest Review of Indigenous Training and Employment Programmes for a Healthy Welfare Card. It would be applied to wide ranging groups, from people who are unemployed, carers, and single parents, to people with a disability. It would, however, exclude veterans and people on the aged pension.
“It is one thing for communities who volunteer to opt into these schemes, where there has been limited success. However, imposing them across the board to vulnerable communities, without consent is going to be counter-productive,” Mr Gooda said.
“A card alone cannot change the entrenched behaviours of individuals. Our communities need long term solutions that aim to tackle the root cause of problems around alcohol, violence and gambling. Communities need to be empowered, not patronised. We need a health based approach, not a bureaucratic one.”
To read more comments from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner view the extended article on the Australian Human Rights Commission website.
SNAICC was amongst a number of Australia’s community welfare sector and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations that released a joint statement last year, encouraging the Government to pursue different avenues of welfare reform.
The organisations strongly oppose any use of a Healthy Welfare Card, believing such a system would be “demeaning, invasive, unworkable and bureaucratic, creating an entire sub-class of millions of people in the Australian community.”