This event will explore a series of trials by the Australian government of delivering welfare benefits through a Cashless Debit Card which ‘quarantines’ a significant part of a recipient’s benefit income on an electronic card. These trials have been mostly targeted at areas with a high proportion of indigenous residents, and explicitly intend to curb alcohol, gambling and tobacco use, as well as other forms of behavior which are perceived as important causes of poverty and abuse. This conversation will elucidate how digital technologies to control recipients’ spending entrench and perpetuate harmful stereotypes, how such cashless cards work in practice and impact the lives of their holders, as well as the role played by private actors in administering this digital welfare system.

About the Series

Transformer States: A Conversation Series on Digital Government and Human Rights is a newly-launched series of virtual conversations organized by the Digital Welfare State and Human Rights Project, based at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. Through in-depth interviews with practitioners and academics working on digital government, this series aims to further explore digital transformation and its impact on the lives and rights of individuals. Read more about the series here.


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