Cashless welfare transfers and Australia’s First Nations: redemptive or repressive violence?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Australian Federal Government claims that the Cashless DebitCard (CDC) is a necessary‘support’that generates positiveoutcomes. Despite contrary evidence revealed throughindependent research and problems with the scheme alsoapparent in government-commissioned research, the dominantpolitical narrative accompanying the CDC remains intractable. TheCDC has been characterised by elites as helpful‘practical love’forthose in need of government income support. However, many ofthose with lived experience of the CDC report that the schemeimposes difficulties with basic bill payment, undermines soundfinancial management, and stigmatises cardholders. The majorityof Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations who havegone on the public record strongly condemn the scheme in itscompulsory iteration, as do prominent First Nations Senators.Taking these issues into consideration, this article examineswhether the CDC is best characterised as‘redemptive’or‘repressive violence’. In doing so, it reflects on colonialconceptions of‘care’, which are deeply paternalistic, andcontrasts this with an approach that promotes self-determinationand autonomy. This analysis is situated in the context ofneoliberal marketisation of welfare state practices, where heavyhanded regulatory frameworks have proven lucrative for industryinterests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-620
Number of pages24
JournalGriffith Law Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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