©2018 by polity.

  • Alex Wok

Cashless Welfare Cards


  • A cashless welfare card (CWC) is a form of government assistance where a portion of a person's welfare is ‘confined’ to a card that can only be used to buy government sanctioned goods.

  • This system has since been modified. Australia currently operates a CWC system where areas & individuals deemed ‘at risk’ have 80% of their welfare payments restricted to a card, with the remainder deposited in their bank account. The government states the goals of this program are to:

  • ​Reduce immediate hardship & deprivation by directing welfare payments to the priority needs of recipients & their families

  • Help affected welfare payment recipients to budget responsibilities

  • Reduce the income available for alcohol, gambling, tobacco, pornography, & drugs

  • Reduce the likelihood of welfare payment recipients being subject to harassment & abuse in relation to their welfare payments, &

  • Encourage socially responsible behaviour, particularly in the care & education of children

  • In August, the Federal Government passed legislation, expanding the CWC trials to Ceduna (South Australia) & East Kimberley (Western Australia).


Do Cashless Welfare Cards

positively affect communities?


  1. BMC Public Health, 'Creating change in government to address the social determinants of health: how can efforts be improved?'; The Conversation, 'Expansion on cashless welfare card shows shock tactics speak louder than evidence'

  2. The Sydney Morning Herald, 'The cashless welfare card may not be quite the success it seems'

  3. The Chronicle, 'Does cashless welfare card cause crime? You be the jury'

  4. ABC, 'Cashless welfare card recipient fears for family when new Centrelink scheme starts'

  5. Social Policy Research Centre, 'Evaluating New Income Management in the Northern Territory: Final Evaluation Report'

  6. Parliament of Australia, 'Income management: an overview'

  7. The Guardian, 'Cashless welfare card could breach right to privacy -- human rights committee'

  8. The Australian, 'Grog abuse drops under welfare card'

  9. The Australian, 'Local indigenous leaders back cashless welfare card trial'

  10. Department of Social Services, 'Cashless Debit Card Trial Evaluation (Wave 1 Interim Evaluation Report)'

  11. The Australian, 'Cashless welfare card would reduce alcohol abuse and violence'

  12. Alan Tudge, opinion in: 'Sky News, 'Locals back cashless welfare cards'

  13. The Conversation, 'The Cashless Debit Card Trial is working and it is vital -- here’s why'