CHRISTMAS LETTER?: Amanda Callaghan with a letter she received about the cashless debit card. With Christmas just weeks away, the announcement has forced her to scale back on her holiday plans.
CHRISTMAS LETTER?: Amanda Callaghan with a letter she received about the cashless debit card. With Christmas just weeks away, the announcement has forced her to scale back on her holiday plans. Alistair Brightman

Welfare families put on notice weeks before Christmas

AMANDA Callaghan claims a letter from the Federal Government has ruined Christmas for her and her two children.

The Hervey Bay mum, who is the recipient of a partnered parenting payment, was among thousands to receive a letter from the Department of Social Services yesterday advising she would soon receive the cashless debit card in the mail.

Despite being warned of a roll-out date of January 29 next year, the letter, advising her she will receive the card "around 10 days" after receiving notice from Centrelink in the new year, still came as a shock.

Ms Callaghan told the Chronicle confirmation she will be on the card has brought home the need to scale back on Christmas presents in order to pay bills before it arrives.

"It's devastating considering Christmas is around the corner," Ms Callaghan said.

"We were planning on picking up a backyard pool and swing set for Christmas but those plans have now been dashed.

"We'll also have to change shopping plans to buy in bulk and change our rent plans, which will make it complicated for our real estate agent."

The DSS has previously confirmed cashless welfare card participants could still pay rent using Centrepay, the Rent Deduction Scheme and BPAY and could make arrangements with a real estate agent to pay using EFTPOS.

The letters being delivered to Hinkler families is the latest sign the controversial policy will become a reality in the region.

The card has long been spruiked as a method to end welfare dependency in the Hinkler electorate and prevent money from being used to purchase alcohol or gambling products instead of necessities.

Cash withdrawals are limited to 20 per cent of an individual's welfare payment.

About 6000 people in the Hinkler region who are under 35-years-old receive Newstart, Youth Allowance (Jobseeker) or Single and Partnered Parenting Payments will receive the card.

A DSS spokeswoman said the letter was sent to give potential participants "time to understand the next step before the trial commences".

"The letter advises that individuals do not need to do anything at this stage," the spokeswoman said.

"The card works at businesses that accept EFTPOS nationwide except businesses that primarily sell takeaway alcohol or gambling products.



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