For three days cashless welfare card holders from Wurrumiyanga, on Bathurst Island had no access to food or electricity.
Once again we are reporting on another remote Aboriginal community crisis that has largely been ignored by the government and the national media here in Australia. After strong storms lashed the Tiwi Islands region this week, Telstra phone services were cut for three days. The governments controversial welfare cards are reliant on Telstra to provide a connection for eftpos services required to use the card.
This week the storms exposed just how shortsighted the government is when it comes to forcing such a plan upon Indigenous communities. There is simply no backup plan. In response to a report from the ABC, the government said residents could call a support line for funds to be transferred to stores when services were down.
Well how if the phone lines are down?
This week the only store in the community had no other choice but to turn people away who wanted to purchase food and top up their power cards. This is a clear example of why people in Canberra should not be making decisions that affect communities they have never been too.
This situation has the potential for disaster, especially for young families with small children or elderly people in these communities. The Cashless welfare card is only going to create more problems and dis-empower people even further.