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Centrelink change is here: Find out how this major change could impact you

Cashless debit card users on Centrelink will be impacted

A composite image of the Centrelink logo on the exterior of a building and a copy of the new debit card.
A major change is on the cards for some Centrelink recipients. (Source: Services Australia / Getty)

Centrelink recipients who are moving to enhanced Income Management when the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) ends will need a SmartCard.

Enhanced Income Management starts on March 6, 2023 and Services Australia said the new SmartCard would look, and work, like a regular bank debit card.

From March 6, 2023, Aussies can swap their CDC for a SmartCard at some service centres or a participating agent. Aussies can keep using their CDC until they get their SmartCard.

The government announced it would abolish the CDC program and make income management voluntary in Ceduna, East Kimberley, Goldfields and Bundaberg-Hervey Bay.

Under the plan, the Cape York region would retain all of its powers of self-determination and referral for community members to go onto income management under the Family Responsibilities Commission.

CDC participants in the Northern Territory will be subject to the requirements under previous income management legislation.

The plan will see around 17,300 individuals in cashless debit card program sites transition off the CDC and onto the new arrangements, or off the program completely.

The plan for the abolition of the CDC program included:

  • An updated income-management technology solution with an enhanced card linked to Services Australia

  • A continuation of current community support services and addition of new services

  • Legislative amendments to strengthen and streamline income management and oversight

  • Delivering $49.9 million for additional alcohol and other drug-treatment services and support in cashless debit card trial sites

  • Providing $17 million for community-led and designed initiatives to support economic and employment opportunities in cashless debit card sites

  • Additional staffing support from Services Australia to support communities through the transition

The government said it was time to put an end to the “failed program”. Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said the government had carefully considered measures that would help communities.

“This package will deliver real solutions for those communities who were subject to the cashless debit card trial and provide choice and long-term certainty into the future,” she said.

“We’ve heard from communities about what they need and these measures deliver on that.”

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