Members of the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union (AUWU) South Australian Branch met with people to speak about their experiences on the cashless welfare card as they visited Ceduna this week.
Seven AUWU members made the organisation’s first trip to Ceduna to speak with community members and organisations to gauge people’s experiences and any difficulties they have faced since the card’s 2016 introduction.
SA branch coordinator Hayden Patterson said the two-day trip was about getting the views of those affected by the card, as a key stakeholder on issues relating to unemployed and underemployed Australians.
“We met people who had concerns with the cashless welfare card, their experiences on it, the difficulties they have had and things they can’t use it for,” he said.
“It was about spending time talking with the community and organisations such as Red Cross, CAC (Ceduna Aboriginal Corporation) and Complete Personnel.
“We heard before coming here there wasn’t a lot of consultation with people on the card so we came to get a feel for it ourselves.”
AUWU formed in 2014 but only formally established a South Australian presence at the beginning of the year and with a number of South Australian members coming from regional towns, Mr Patterson said it was important they had a chance to voice their opinion.
He said the AUWU delegation had a fruitful visit to Ceduna and received plenty of useful information to work with.
“Some people on the card said they have had funds go missing and various people were speaking about ways some get around the card, that people with a drinking or gambling problem still find a way, which has a bigger flow-on effect for family members and the community,” Mr Patterson said.
“We spoke to people who have been here for 40 or 50 years and said they have seen bad things now they had never seen before.
“The general perception we have is that people are angry they haven’t been spoken to and had a chance to offer their opinion.”
National media officer Jeremy Poxon said the AUWU visiting Ceduna and listening to what people had to say was well received.
“I had people come up to me and say they were happy and thankful that we came down and that they were listened to,” he said.
“In discussions about statistics, people feel they have been removed from the equation.”
Mr Patterson said the AUWU would be hosting a forced management income forum next month in Adelaide and would be able to present what they heard in Ceduna.
He said the organisation’s aim was to give a voice to unemployed or underemployed people and to teach their about their rights.