What is the Cashless Debit Card and how does it work?

The Cashless Debit Card is a financial management tool which works to minimise the social harms caused by excessive alcohol consumption, illegal drug use, and gambling.

Card holders receive 80 per cent of their welfare benefit onto the Cashless Debit Card. The other 20 per cent is deposited into their standard bank account and is available to be withdrawn as cash. The welfare payment amount remains the same.

The Cashless Debit Card works just like any other debit card and can be used at more than 900,000 outlets across Australia. Anywhere you can use EFTPOS, you can use the Cashless Debit Card. You can use it to buy anything, except alcohol or gambling products and some gift cards (which can be cashed).

How did the Cashless Debit Card come about?

Minderoo Foundation’s involvement in the Cashless Debit Card stems from Andrew Forrest’s 2014 ‘Creating Parity’ report, which outlined 27 recommendations to end the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

One of these recommendations was to introduce a Healthy Welfare Card, which has ultimately led to the Cashless Debit Card. This recommendation was developed with the advice and input of Indigenous community leaders and Elders.

Two communities we worked with during this time asked to trial the Cashless Debit Card to help address some of the most serious issues in their communities.

What is Minderoo Foundation’s role with the Cashless Debit Card?

Minderoo Foundation is a philanthropic foundation with a mission to arrest unfairness and create opportunities to better the world. We are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission and comply with the requirements that apply to our charitable status.

One of our initiatives is Building Communities. The core objective of Building Communities is to foster healthy, strong communities by empowering community-led responses to vulnerability.

In pursuit of the goals of Building Communities, Minderoo Foundation listens to community views and engages in public policy advocacy for the Cashless Debit Card, as a tool to help minimise the impacts of alcohol, drug and gambling addiction within communities.

Does Minderoo Foundation operate the Cashless Debit Card and do you or Andrew Forrest have any financial interest in the Cashless Debit Card?

The Cashless Debit Card is a federal government initiative and is operated by Indue Limited. We have no commercial affiliation with Indue or any financial interest in the Cashless Debit Card and we are strictly non-partisan. Minderoo Foundation supports the Cashless Debit Card as a means of administering more responsible welfare.

Is the Cashless Debit Card like the ‘BasicsCard’ or another form of income management?

Income management is much more restrictive – it involves an intervention by the government to ensure “priority needs such as rent, bills and food” are paid first before distributing the rest of the payment. Cashless Debit Card users still receive their full welfare payment upfront and are only restricted from purchasing alcohol and gambling products. How an individual manages their payment is otherwise at their discretion.

The BasicsCard is accepted at fewer outlets than the Cashless Debit Card and blocks spending on additional items including tobacco and pornography.

The BasicsCard is also operated by Indue Limited but with different conditions and restrictions. Most BasicsCard holders have 50 per cent of their welfare payments paid onto the card.

How much does it cost to administer the Cashless Debit Card?

The cost of the Cashless Debit Card has decreased over time. It does not cost $10,000 per person as some have reported – current estimates are less than $1,000 per card and this is continuing to fall.

Do people on Cashless Debit Card get paid more or less than others receiving their payments other ways?

No, participants receive the same welfare payment amounts as people who are not Cashless Debit Card participants.

What does the card look like?

The card looks like any other bank card, and is grey in colour. You can see what it looks like here:


Does Minderoo Foundation try to influence elected members? Are you registered as a lobbyist?

The requirements of the Commonwealth Lobbyist Register apply only to those lobbying on behalf of a third-party client. The Commonwealth Lobbyist Register does not apply to charitable organisations, such as Minderoo Foundation.

Minderoo Foundation is bipartisan and does not campaign for or against political candidates or political parties, however, like many charities we engage in advocacy work as part of achieving our objectives. Any engagement by us in advocacy work is consistent with the applicable requirements of our status as a registered charitable organisation.

Has Minderoo Foundation received any federal government money for the Cashless Debit Card?

No. As noted above, the Cashless Debit Card is a federal government initiative which Minderoo Foundation is supportive of as a tool for more responsible management of welfare.

Is the Cashless Debit Card only for Indigenous people?

No. While the idea for the Healthy Welfare Card was developed in consultation with Indigenous community leaders and Elders, the Cashless Debit Card applies to all working age welfare recipients in current trial sites, regardless of ethnicity or cultural identity.

While the first two communities to opt-in to trial the Cashless Debit Card have a high proportion of Indigenous people in their population, over time the trials have expanded into new communities, and now the majority of people on the card, approximately 60 per cent, are not Indigenous people.

Do Minderoo Foundation staff visit communities using the Cashless Debit Card?

We regularly visit the communities where the Cashless Debit Card is being trialled, upon invitation. We go there to hear first-hand feedback from participants, community leaders and service providers on both the positive and negative impacts of the card. We use this information to advocate for a Cashless Debit Card, with the right wrap-around supports, that best meets community needs.

You can read further FAQs published by the Department of Social Services on the Cashless Debit Card here.