The following article has been contributed by John Browner. It is related to an article published by The Pen (9 September 2017) and titled It dropped like a bomb on the town. This is a story of one person in Ceduna (South Australia), forced into forced into the Cashless Debit Card trial there (the Indue Card). This is second personal story from Kalgoorlie, outlining the human cost of this attack the independence and dignity of vulnerable people. Anyone with a heart will be moved by the story.
I am writing both as a parent of a disabled 25 year old son, who is Autistic and as a support worker for the disabled, in regard to the “Cashless Welfare card”.
F1rst I’d like to point out that the “information” session also touted as a meeting to assess the public’s response to this card was a charade as within one week of the session being held in Kalgoorlie the Prime Minister arrived and announced the introduction of the card.
Hardly enough time to report back, and assess the comments and feeling of those attending these sessions.
The speaker also said and I quote “They do not get charged fees on this card,” as a response to my asking why no interest was credited. I then pointed out to him that most banks also do not charge fees on disabled persons account. His response to this was “Not many make use of that facility.”
How in the hell would he know what people make use of in their private banking accounts?
He also suggested that if my son was being adversely effected by the card, that different treatment may be required. When I pointed out that there was no “Treatment” for Autism he fired back with “I’m not a Doctor.” So he had no right to make any remarks about my Son’s medical position at all.
This card, I find, to be discriminatory towards people with disabilities as the Government’s stated purpose for its introduction is to “The Commonwealth Government is considering the best possible ways to support people, families and communities, in locations where high levels of welfare dependence co-exist with high levels of social harm.”
My Son does not drink and does not gamble. In fact he saves his money, as he lives at home and we have taught him the value of saving, for that day when we will no longer be there to help him. He places his saving in a high interest bearing account, pays a minimum for board and spends a little on his passion, which is computers, gaming etc.
Under this despicable card, he will not be able to purchase items from Ebay, or from overseas companies unless they have been approved, why?
He cannot purchase a meal in a hotel, unless the hotel has a separate till for meals and has approval by the Govt.
He cannot purchase a second hand vehicle, furniture, or any other item privately, if he does not have enough of his 20 percent left, without having to ring a number that is only operated until 4.30pm 5 days a week. Apparently, as we were told at the session he will have to provide the seller’s details, and the Government department will then ring the seller to check the validity of his claim. They may then OK him withdrawing the cash for the purchase.
How many Sellers of second hand vehicles, or people holding a garage sale are going to wait and accept these conditions?
If he has used his 20 percent he also cannot purchase items from markets stalls, which only accept cash. Quite a few cafés only accept cash, so once again, he is being discriminated against, because he is disabled.
I have just outlined the many difficulties this card will impose my disabled son, not to mention the blow to his already delicate self-esteem.
He is not a second class citizen, he has a disability which he did not ask for, and with his parents help he has managed to make his way in the world. We are proud of him and cannot stand the thought of the damage, placing him on this card will do.
As I mentioned I am also a Support Worker and one of those who I offer support to, has a severe learning disability, is schizophrenic and totally illiterate.
This young man, with much guidance and assistance has strategies in place to manage his money.
He cannot type in or remember a pin number. His gives his sister a set sum each fortnight out of his pension, to keep for him on his of pay week. Support workers take him shopping on both weeks so that he is assured of having decent meals etc., and the essentials. After a lot of work he has $100 deposited in a savings account, which he does not touch, unless there is an emergency, such as a sick pet, a replacement appliance is needed or he is going on camp, etc. He always checks with his sister or support worker, to see if it necessary to withdraw anything from this account. He does not know numbers. If he had a card he would have to show people his pin number, so it could be used. He would not know how much he had used or had left.
There is also the case of a legally blind person having to use a card. Most blind people find it easier to use cash, as the notes are different sizes, and with the introduction of new notes a tactile imprint is being made into each note for easier identification of the value.
Please, for my son’s sake and those others who have suffered or been unfortunate to be born with a disability that prevents them from finding or keeping employment, forcing them to survive on welfare, do not allow this card to be implemented.