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Submit to the Cashless Welfare Senate Inquiry

Are you opposed to cashless welfare?

If so, the AUWU strongly encourages you to write a letter saying so to your local member and to the Senate Inquiry into the INDUE welfare card.

Unfortunately, you don’t have much time. The Senate submissions will be closing on September 29 and the vote will be going to the Senate after the inquiry finalises its report on 13 November. We need to put maximum pressure on politicians to vote down the INDUE card.

It’s easier than you think – your letter should be very brief (four pages maximum) and briefly detail some of your concerns about the program.

Here’s a quick four step guide:

Step One: Why Are You Opposed to the Card

Some questions to consider if you have not been on the card:

● How do you see people spending cash and managing their money?
● What goods or services (other than the card’s targets, alcohol & gambling) does/would the card prevent people you work with from accessing?
● Do you think the card has/will have unintended consequences for people and the community?

Some questions to consider if you have been on the card:

● What were/are some of the things you spend cash on?
● Where did/do you spend cash?
● Does/would not having cash effect your budget?
● Does/would not having cash change where you shop?
● What goods or services (other than the card’s targets, alcohol & gambling) does/would the card prevent you from accessing?
● Do you think the card has/will have unintended consequences for people and the community?
● Can you think of any better solutions to problems like addiction than the card?
● How does the card make you feel?

See below for some more information.

Step Two: Introduce Yourself

Politicians needs to know what qualifies you to advise them on the INDUE card and who you are.

For the purposes of the Senate Inquiry you need to  tell them how you came to have your knowledge on the card.You also need to directly mention the bill they’re reporting on.

If you’re not sure how to do that it’s okay to copy this sentence below and then finish it by adding relevant detail.

I have knowledge of/information about/familiarity with the Cashless Debit Card  that the Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 would extend because  I…

or… As a member of ____________, I have grave concerns about the likely impact of the  Cashless Debit Card that the Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2017  would extend, because…

For the purposes of writing to your local MP you need to demonstrate who you are and where your are based. Here is a good sample:

 

“To the Minister / Shadow Minister for Parliament,

My name is _____  and I am based in ____. I am deeply concerned about the Cashless Welfare Card and the legislation currently before the Senate to expand the program.

Even though there have been very negative reports about the effect the card has had on trial communities, the Government seems to be ignoring the people on this issue and increasing the trials in other areas…”

Step Three: Put It All Together

Politicians like it when each different point you make has a heading. In your letter, try to group together all your similar points in a list and put that under a heading.

Some heading examples include:

  •  “good things about cash”
  • “stuff I can’t do on the card”
  • “things I worry about”
  • “ideas I have”
  • “how I feel”
  • “things I’ve seen”
  • “These are some things I’ve noticed in the community since the Cashless Card was introduced”

You are now ready to send it off.

Step Four: Submit

Contacting your local MP or other politician:

To find your local MP’s email or Minster go here.

Submit to Senate Inquiry: 

Go the the Senate Inquiry page for the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017 here and click upload submission. You will need to make an account on My Parliament before you can submit.

Send on your letter to the AUWIU

Please forward your letter onto the AUWU at contact@unemployedworkersunion.com for our record

More Info

Why The Cashless Welfare Card is Bad for Business and for Communities:

 

 

  • The card is produced by the Australian company INDUE, to use it the business owner needs to enter into a business agreement with INDUE which may not benefit the business.

 

  • Small business in regional and rural areas do not necesssarily use Eftpos machines. The cost of small business is climbing, particularly in relation to utilities, the books are getting tighter and every cent counts. There is currently no way for small business owners to quantify how much of their takings is supplied through welfare recipient cash transactions, making a feasibility assessment of wether or not to invest in an eftpos terminal and go into an agreement with INDUE impossible.

 

  • The cashless card is geared towards bigger business such as Coles and Woolies, where shopper anonominity is encouraged, particularly with the installation of Cashier Terminals where no human contact is necessary for a transaction to take place. This means that people who feel stigmatised by the cashless welfare card may choose to stop shopping with small businesses.

 

 

The many draw backs of the cashless card include:

 

  1. The app designed for people to check their account on their smartphone is reported to be glitchy. In areas with poor internet reception the app is a useless utility.

 

  1. The INDUE card is very different from a bankcard. It operates as a credit card in the sense that funds are not the property of the recipient, so a recipient has no claim to interest accrued on funds over time. In the case of persons becoming ill and spending a period of time in hospital, (elderly, chronically ill and mental health patients who are unable to access the Disability Support Pension) this can amount to regular periods of many months. Interest accrued on funds becomes a significant revenue stream for the company INDUE who have full ownership of accrued interest across millions of Newstart recipients. In other words INDUE gets to keep the sum total of all your small change, the stuff that goes in the jar above the fridge and comes in handy to pay the winter electricity bill with. This amounts to welfare spending contributing directly to the profit margins of big business, diminishing the growth of smaller local economy.

 

  1. The low amount of cash that can be accessed through compulsory income management is not enough to participate in alternate markets such as farmers markets, trash and treasures, local craft markets, alternate food and goods banks and many charity shops which deal exclusively in cash transactions. In regional and rural areas eggs, mulch and fresh vegetables can often be purchased from road side sales points and co-ops dealing only in cash, these healthy options for people on low incomes will be impossible to access with the cashless card.

 

  1. The small-economy becomes impossible under income management, how do you pay the babysitter with an INDUE card? How do give $50 to the bloke up the road who fixes your lawn mower or $20 to the boy who mows your lawn if you are unable to? How do you support your children and teenagers to participate in school fates and local excursions that require lunch money, pocket money and taxi money for an emergency such as having no safe option to get home from a late party? How do you teach your kids how to handle cash?

 

  1. Residents in Ceduna, one of the trial sites for the Cashless Welfare card have reported their mortgage payments have become more expensive due to added transaction fees.

 

  1. People cannot contribute to share house costs with a cashless card. How can you pay your landlord if they only accept cash?

 

  1. There are reports that people on income management are begging, are buying food and then reselling it at lower prices to get access to cash so they cover costs like share-room rent, private studio and caravan rent, getting around town using alternate transport systems (throwing in some cash to help with petrol for a friend who gives them a lift somewhere etc) and providing pocket money for their kids, which effectively makes welfare recipients even poorer than they already are.

 

  1. Compulsory income management stigmatises people and separates them from mainstream society even further, disallowing social mobility and scapegoating poverty.

 

  1. Cheap shopping alternatives such as Aldi are excluded from participating in the scheme because there is no separation between the liquor store and the main store, thus preventing cheap goods being obtainable to people on tight budgets.

 

  1. AUWU have information that organised crime gangs are already strategising around how they can recruit a labour force to achieve criminal goals from the pool of unemployed on income management who need access to cash.

 

  1. The only people with access to cash in welfare demographics will be elderly pensioners and disability pensioners who will be made vulnerable targets for criminals.

 

  1. Cashless welfare, in a society where the welfare payments don’t lift people over the poverty line, forces people to use mainstream shopping outlets that are just too expensive for limited budgets, making emergency situations requiring cash impossible to manage.

 

  1. People in welfare demographics will not be able to “chip in” or help each other financially from fortnight to fortnight.

 

  1. INDUE are not a bank and cannot provide any of the privacy and security measures that banks provide. Our data will be open to organisations who collect data to profile and target consumers. The Government cannot guarantee our privacy because INDUE are not a Government organisation, regardless of assurances and agreements Government and INDUE come to. This lack of privacy is already an ongoing issue with Job Network Providers who are reported to be repeatedly breaching the privacy rights of their clients.

 

  1. There are reports of people manufacturing bootleg liquor because they can no longer by alcohol. The cashless card has already created a back yard market in liquor and gambling in exchange for resalable goods.

 

  1. The card will encourage black market labour hire because more people will accept cash work that pays below the minimum wage.

Tell Your Story, Learn about Your Rights and Fight Back!

To fight the government punitive approach to the unemployed, it is important that the voices of unemployed people are heard.
 
The AUWU is currently collecting stories from unemployed people about their experiences with job agencies with the aim of releasing a report next year exposing this broken and inhumane $11 billion system. With your permission, we will also be posting these stories on our website, social media and pitching stories to the media.
 
Please fill out this 5 minute survey below and join the fight against this punitive system.
 
If you would like to learn about your rights, the AUWU is rolling out a free advocacy course via correspondence later this month. Please RSVP for the course here
 
Once you have completed this short course (which takes roughly three days), you will be eligible to run the AUWUs advocacy services from home.

Dignity Not Drug Tests

In its 2016-2017 Budget, the Turnbull Government announced its plans to give Centrelink new powers to harass, humiliate, and financially penalise social security recipients. As part of the latest round of cruel attacks, the Turnbull government wants to:
 
• drug test social security recipients and penalise those who refuse
 
• give Centrelink more powers to financially penalise the unemployed
 
• force more people onto the Cashless Welfare system
 
• make it harder to get on the single parent pension
 
• sack over 1000 Centrelink staff and privatise call centre operations
• kick people with drug and alcohol issues off the Disability Support Pension
 
These measures are part of a broader attempt to effectively cripple our social security system. The result is the current mess: an overworked staff, inability to provide basic services, absurd call-waiting times, 36 million unanswered calls in 2016, not to mention the ‘robo-debt’ debacle, which saw tens of thousands of Australians defrauded by their own government!
 
Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 3.43.06 PM
 
Turnbull is deliberately trying to make collecting social security as difficult and humiliating as possible. He wants us to feel like criminals for accepting assistance that is our legal right, assistance that is already so meagre it fails to keep us above the poverty line.
 
Rather than investing in job-creation, Turnbull wants to grind us down with cruel measures that punish the vulnerable, the victims of poor public policy.
 
Our social security system is being purposefully defunded, privatised, and dismantled; the poor and vulnerable are being criminalised and trampled upon.
 
Fight back by joining the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union’s Dignity Not Debt leafleting Campaign.
 
If you are able to print the leaflet, please click here to download it (this booklet is designed to printed on one folded A4 sheet (allowing four A5 pages of  text). Click on the pdf link above to print your booklet)

If you cannot print the leaflet, please contact the AUWU at secretary@unemployedworkersunion.com and we will send you the leaflet in the mail.

Fight 4 Facts!

It is one of the worst kept secrets in Australia that the Australian Bureau Statistics (ABS) produces misleading unemployment and underemployment statistics. Even the former head of the ABS Bill McLennan has stated that ABS employment data “is not worth the paper they are written on”. Glenn Stevens, while Governor of the Reserve Bank, had similar concerns about the quality of unemployment data.

According to the ABS, Australians who work more than one hour are considered to be employed. This has allowed the Government to hide the true nature of of Australia’s growing employment crisis.

As part of the its Fight4Facts campaign, the AUWU will release monthly figures showing the true nature of Australia’s employment crisis. Our releases will coincide directly with the distorted and ideological picture of unemployment presented by the ABS.

Please share throughout your networks.

Current data:

ratios_july17

2017 data:

June ABS figures
 
May ABS figures
 
April ABS figures
April application data
 
March ABS figures
March application data
 
February ABS figures
February application data
February press release
February Fairfax article

Older data:

2016-2008

Newstart Vs Poverty Line

Fro the late 1970s onward (when the dole was made equal with the Henderson poverty line by the Whitlam Government), the dole has been sinking further and further below the poverty line. Today it is the worst it has ever been.

newstart-henderson-poverty-line-graph

Below is a comparison of the current maximum rate of the dole (including rent assistance) with the current Henderson Poverty Line has calculated each quarter by the Melbourne Institute.

March 2016 Quarter

Henderson Poverty Line: $1049.78 per fortnight
Maximum Newstart Rate (including rent assistance): $658

$391.78 below the poverty line per fortnight

 

Your Rights Workshop (Melbourne)

Where
Community Hub Room (Urban Communities), Ground Floor
Kensington Public Housing Estate
94 Ormond Road, Kensington, 3031
Snacks provided
Free, open to all
Hosted by Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU)

Find out
– why job agencies are not on your side
– what you can do about your job plan
– what you can do about your Work for the Dole placement
– how to fight back

Workshop Schedule
2:00 p.m. — 3:00 p.m.
Workshop: overview of your rights under the law, hear what other Newstart recipients are dealing with.

3:00 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.
Drop-in: no appointment necessary, one-on-one with an AUWU delegate. We can help you make the best of a bad situation. (Note: the AUWU does not offer legal advice.)

Getting there:
– Williamstown train to South Kensington Station, walk (about 200m): across Childers St, turn right, and walk along Ormond Road, up the hill keeping JJ Holland Park on your left. 94 is the tower just past a block of flats.

– bus 402 along Kensington Rd. to Derby St, walk (about 500m): south along Derby St, turn right into Ormond Rd.