The Chair of the Central Land Council, Robert Hoosan, today welcomed the passage of legislation to abolish the cashless debit card (CDC) as an important step in the transition to end compulsory income management.
The cashless debit card will end in the Northern Territory next year, but a system of compulsory income quarantining will continue for at least a further 12 months after that.
“We at CLC strongly welcome abolishing the cashless debit card,” Mr Hoosan said. “On top of that, we want to see an end to all forms of compulsory quarantining of welfare money, but this has to be done carefully, making sure that people get good information and support so they understand the changes.
“The Government needs to consult properly with the community controlled Aboriginal organisations and with communities to co-design a new system with us so people can choose what is best for themselves.”
Mr Hoosan said this could allow for voluntary approaches to income management and should include investment in culturally appropriate financial counselling in languages people understand.
Compulsory income management was first introduced in the NT in 2007 as part of the Howard Government Northern Territory Intervention and was exclusively imposed on Aboriginal people. Mr Hoosan said that 15 years of income management had hurt Aboriginal people and caused a lot of harm.
“The Intervention and income quarantining really hurt Aboriginal people. It was racially-based and it stigmatised and shamed people. All the research done over the years has not produced any evidence to show that income management gave any benefit to solve social problems. It’s time to get rid of it.
“We want to see the money that has been spent on controlling people put into positive investments, and strategies that have good evidence to help people get treatment for alcohol and drug problems.
“And we want a new approach for remote employment and getting people off welfare and into local jobs that are good for communities, like the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT proposal for a Remote Development and Employment Scheme to replace the failed CDP,” Mr Hoosan said. “That’s the future we want.”