Single mothers and parents on Centrelink to face limits on cash withdrawals.

Government review says this will reduce spending on drugs and alcohol.

The Federal Government is planning to roll out a new Healthy Welfare Card, that limits purchases and cash withdrawals, for Centrelink benefit recipients in a trial later this year.

The card will prevent the welfare recipient from spending on alcohol or gambling, and will place a limit on the cash that can be withdrawn each day.

The roll out, as reported by SingleMums.com.au, will include Parenting Payment and Newstart recipients.

The Healthy Welfare Card is modelled on the Basics Card, a similar system of income management currently being used in disadvantaged communities. It is an initiative of the Forrest Review into welfare conducted by mining magnate, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, in 2014. The Forrest Review recommends that 100% of welfare recipient’s income be managed.

Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest, author of the Forrest Review. image via Getty

The review says, “All individuals and families benefit from a stable financial environment where regular bills and rent are paid on time and there is food on the table, allowing them to concentrate on other concerns including returning to work and raising and education their children.


Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Alan Tudge, who will oversee the trial has yet to announce all the details, but has already flagged that 100% income management is unlikely to happen, conceding that welfare recipients still require access to cash. However, he told Radio 6PR in Perth, “the proportion of the cashless component would nevertheless have to be reasonably high.”

While initially limited to certain yet to be announced trial sites, the proposal is already raising significant concerns.

The proposal to limit cash withdrawals is being touted as a measure to prevent people from buying drugs. But, as reported by SingleMums.com.au welfare bodies have responded, writing to the Government stating that the proposal is unworkable, and that the card “creates a sub-class of millions of Australians that ‘can’t be trusted’ with their own cash.

The Australian Council of Social Services called for the card proposal to be dumped when it was first raised late last year.

Pointing to the Basics Card, they called for the Government the Forrest Review recommendation for a Healthy Welfare card outright, “this income management scheme has failed to effect long-term changes in behaviour or outcomes, despite the high cost of the policy…the evidence points to the scheme being unsuccessful in achieving the stated aims of preventing people from spending the money [on] alcohol, gambling and drugs, or getting people to be healthy and fresh food.”

Are you a Centrelink recipient? How would you respond to having your income managed and to being prevented from making cash withdrawals?

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