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Bottom Dollar: Welfare Quarantining in Remote Australia


Event Status

Cashless Debit Card (CDC) regimes have been operating in Ceduna, South Australia, and East Kimberley, Western Australia, since 2016. Under these schemes, welfare recipients receive most of their income pre-loaded onto restrictive debit cards that can’t be used for the purchase of gambling or alcohol products, or to withdraw cash.

Proponents say welfare quarantining protects children and vulnerable people from the harm caused by alcohol and gambling in remote communities. But others say the restrictions are punitive and even racist, primarily affecting Aboriginal people and people with disabilities. In terms of an incursion on the liberties of free Australian citizens, the CDC is indeed unusually radical. Yet in 2018, two new CDC schemes are expected to roll out in communities in Western Australia and Queensland.

For this discussion, we’re bringing together activists, academics and ordinary citizens who have lived with the CDC. Does the evidence support the extension of the programme? Is there a dark side to the regime? And in choosing the locations for the scheme to be rolled out, is remoteness a proxy for race?

Presented in partnership with Liberty Victoria.


Jessie Taylor

Jessie Taylor is a lawyer working in the community sector, and a Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Monash University. Jessie is the current President of Liberty Victoria. In April 2018, Jessie was appointed to the Board of Directors of Donkey Wheel Ltd. She sat on the Board of the Asylum Seeker R... Read more

Elise Klein

Elise Klein is a Lecturer of Development Studies, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne. She currently leads a research project examining Cashless Debit Card trial in the East Kimberley and works on a grant from the British Council’s International Challenges Fund on ther... Read more

Jackie Huggins

Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA, a member of the Bidjara and Birri Gubba Juru peoples, is currently leading the work for Treaty/Treaties in Queensland. In popular demand as a speaker on Aboriginal issues, she is a well-known historian and author, with articles published widely in Australia and internation... Read more

Beverley Walley

Beverley Walley is a Noongar Ballardong woman from the South West of Perth in Western Australia. She also has connections to the Mirrawong Gaderong people in the East Kimberley of Kununurra, Western Australia, where she currently resides. Beverley did her primary and secondary schooling in a wheatbe... Read more


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