income control

The term income control is used to indicate compulsory participation in cashless welfare programs such as the Cashless Debit Card (now Smart Card) and BasicsCard, described by the Australian Government as income management programs to invoke benign budgeting or financial counselling. A significant portion of a person’s Centrelink payment is placed on a card that can only be used at certain locations or for certain products. These programs forcibly restrict the items that people subjected to them are able to purchase, and remove participants’ agency and control over how bills are paid and who they are paid to. They are racist and target First Nations communities, exerting control over their income in violation of their rights. In 2023 the Albanese government passed new legislation permanently entrenching a compulsory cashless welfare program called the Smart Card to replace the Cashless Debit Card and BasicsCard, which they had promised to make voluntary ahead of the 2022 election.

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