The federal government will trial a new cashless welfare card to stop spending on drugs, alcohol and gambling, saying it could help reduce rates of domestic violence.
The trial of the Healthy Welfare Card will begin at the end of the year, with the coalition targeting disadvantaged indigenous and non-indigenous communities.
The cards would operate like an ordinary visa or debit card, and could be used on anything except to buy alcohol, or to gamble.
Meanwhile, the cash available would be limited to stop the money being used to purchase drugs.
Parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge said the Healthy Welfare Card could have a dramatic impact on the rates of attacks and violence on women.
“The rates of violence in some of the high welfare communities is completely unacceptable,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“We want to trial this card because we believe it could have an impact on reducing the assaults and reducing violence in the community.”
The Healthy Welfare Card is a recommendation of mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, whose controversial review of indigenous employment said it should be introduced for 2.5 million Australians.
But Social Services Minister Scott Morrison said there was no plan for the card to have “mainstream application”.
“It’s there as a key tool to target particular areas of disadvantage,” he told reporters in Sydney.
The Greens described the card as “patronising and paternalistic”, and called for the trials to be abandoned.
“These tough love methods do not resolve complex issues,” Senator Rachel Siewert said in a statement.
“They have not worked in the past and will not work now.”