IN THE NEWS: Kalgoorlie-Boulder cashless debit card support hub opens to help job seekers

Elena Morabito | Kalgoorlie Miner


A cashless debit card support hub has been opened in Kalgoorlie-Boulder to help participants obtain paperwork and accreditation required by job providers.

City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder deputy mayor Glenn Wilson, Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson and WA Senator Matt O’Sullivan were in attendance on Thursday and said the initiative’s aim was to “create employment opportunities for CDC participants.”

The Goldfields cashless debit card trial started on March 26, 2018 and operates in the local government areas of the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the shires of Coolgardie, Leonora, Laverton and Menzies.

Rick Wilson said he and Mr O’Sullivan toured the Goldfields late last year and received feedback from program participants who expressed their desire for additional support to bridge the gap between welfare and work.

He said the card aimed to “help people stabilise their lives”, with additional funding poured into local drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres and other support services.

Mr Wilson said the hub at 50 Egan Street would be open Monday to Friday from 9am-noon for walk-ins, with the facility being appointment-only during afternoons.

Mr O’Sullivan said the card had been “an effective tool” to address challenges related to drugs and alcohol, but that the program was by no means a silver bullet.

“While we recognise that the CDC is an effective tool and some will argue is a more responsible delivery of public welfare rather than just cash payments . . . it’s not the destination that we want for people,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

He said the end goal was to help people move into jobs and off welfare support, and to achieve economic independence.

Glenn Wilson said the City had selected skilled people to help fulfil the role of reintegrating people back into the community and giving them opportunities they previously might not have had.

He said interpreters speaking several Indigenous languages would be available by appointment for participants who do not speak English.

Mr O’Sullivan said the hub would not take work away from job providers but would instead supplement them to achieve the best outcome for individuals.

On arrival, he said people would be given support to receive an ID, safety tickets or a forklift driver’s licence, for example.

Once card holders have been employed and earning their own income, they would exceed the Centrelink threshold and not receive welfare, making the card unusable.

“However, some self-elected to stay on the card, because essentially, it’s just a normal bank account. So they’re actually getting paid from their normal pay into that account,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“They’re not required to that, but that’s something that they can do . . . (if) they see some of the benefit . . . in the wider community that might hustle them around getting access to some of their income.”

Rick Wilson said the trial was legislated to end on December 31, 2022, but its future would depend on the outcome of the Federal Election.

Mr O’Sullivan said Labor had said they did not support the card and wanted to withdraw it from communities across Australia but his Liberal Party would move legislation “soon after the election to have it continue”.

He said the government had received positive feedback from participants who said it had helped normalise some of their spending and local retailers noticed people spent more on groceries.

Mr O’Sullivan said people who had been put on the card incorrectly by ticking the wrong box and lived outside the trial area could visit the hub to be taken off the card.