30 year old Single Mum Crystal Silk hasn't been able to find employment since moving to Bundaberg 18 months ago and believes the Cashless Welfare Card will place too many restrictions on those already on a tight budget and are trying to do the right thing. Photo Lachie Millard
30 year old Single Mum Crystal Silk hasn't been able to find employment since moving to Bundaberg 18 months ago and believes the Cashless Welfare Card will place too many restrictions on those already on a tight budget and are trying to do the right thing. Photo Lachie Millard Lachie Millard

Card threat a 'worry' for mum, govt says it won't back down

SINGLE mothers such as Crystal Silk say the Cashless Debit Card would hit them the hardest if it was ever rolled out in Hinkler.

The 30-year-old moved to Bundaberg a year-and-a-half ago with her son, who's now 3, and has not been able to find work.

It's been a soul-crushing experience.

"I come from a working family with a strong work ethic and to be told 'oh no, we need to manage your money now', it's a bit of shock," Ms Silk said.

"It's a worry when they think they can come in and take control of everything when they assume you have a problem," she said.

Ms Silk is on family benefits after giving birth to her son. She was unable to re-enter the workforce because of complications with her son's health.

She needed to be available at a moment's notice as she waited for news he could undergo much-needed surgery.

Despite wanting to find a job, employment agencies filed her as a "voluntary job seeker".

This meant she was welcome to use their facilities, but they would not actively help her find employment.

She said she had tried everything, but said the jobs market in Bundaberg was dire.

"One shop I went to said they would try to get through to everyone, but they already had 50 applications in," she said.

"They can't exactly say people aren't looking for jobs here, there's just not enough jobs here."

She said the introduction of the cashless card was a low blow for mothers such as her who were doing the right thing.

"I'm already on an extremely strict budget so all my money is accounted for, I can prove that and show that," she said.

"I don't do any of the things they say everyone's doing so why is it for everyone when so many people are doing the right thing?"

When the cashless card was initially announced for Hinkler, Ms Silk said comments on social media slammed potential recipients as dole bludgers, but failed to show any compassion for women such as her who were just trying to make ends meet.

"It seems like a very expensive project for something that might work, instead of seeing where we are going before throwing out the money," she said.

Ms Silk was also sceptical about the blanket roll-out and criticised the services available in the region for people dealing with drug and alcohol addiction.

"There should be more wrap-around services to get people into rehabilitation," she said.

"The hospital, you see the reports that they are struggling when it comes to drug abuse.

"We need better hospitals, jobs and economic growth.

"I don't want this town to be a ghost town."

 

Cashless card protesters in the CBD.
Cashless card protesters in the CBD. File

How the cashless card could end up back on the table for Bundy

THE Cashless Debit Card is off the table in Bundaberg - for now.

The income manage- ment scheme will be rolled out in Western Australia's Goldfields but not Hinkler after the Federal Government's Bill was defeated in the Senate.

It is already in place in Ceduna, in South Australia, and East Kimberley, Western Australia.

To have Hinkler or any other place included a new Bill will need to be introduced and passed by the Senate.

Welfare recipients on the card receive only 20 per cent of their payments as cash. The remainder is on the card which cannot be used to buy alcohol, gamble or withdraw cash.

 

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge shows what the cashless welfare card will look like.
Human Services Minister Alan Tudge shows what the cashless welfare card will look like. Amanda Coop

Government says it won't back down on card amid soaring welfare costs

SOCIAL Services Minister Dan Tehan said the Turnbull Government would keep fighting to roll out the Cashless Debit Card in Bundaberg in a bid to tackle long-term unemployment and intergenerational welfare.

"The evidence shows that children born to welfare-dependent parents are more likely to become welfare dependent themselves," Mr Tehan said.

"In the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region, 90 per cent of Newstart or Youth Allowance recipients under 25 had a parent who had received income support welfare at some point during the past 15 years.

"I visited Bundaberg recently and met with a community leaders and residents who were unanimous that they wanted the Cashless Debit Card, because doing nothing was no longer an option."

"In Hervey Bay, there's $5million a month into the pokies and $4.5million in Bundaberg."

The pledge to keep fighting for the card came as it was revealed that more than 22,000 Queenslanders have been on Newstart or Youth Allowance for more than five years, compared with 10,269 five years ago.

Nationally, $31.8billion was spent last year on working-age welfare.

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said it was difficult to break the welfare cycle and said the cashless card would help.

He said the government also needed to create more jobs in regional communities, including decentralising government services.

 

Pollies don't seem to agree on job rates.
Pollies don't seem to agree on job rates. Keagan Elder

Jobs, jobs, jobs

JUST how bad is unemployment in Queensland?

It's one subject politicians don't seem to be able to come to an agreement on.

Last month, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed news that 143,900 jobs had been created in Queensland since January 2015 and extolled the trend unemployment rate of 5.9 per cent - 6 per cent with seasonal adjustment.

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt believes if people really want work, it's there.

"There is work, it might not be the dream job, but we've all done things that are not our dream job," he said.

"I continue to encourage people to take what's in front of them."

However, State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington paints a different picture of jobs in Queensland.

"It isn't good enough to have the second highest unemployment rate in mainland Australia," she said.

"Only Labor think a 6 per cent unemployment rate is good for jobs in Queensland.

"Labor need to do more to create jobs, improve business investment and stop introducing job destroying taxes."



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