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The “White Card” is grey: survelliance, endurance and the cashless debit card
journal contributionposted on 2020-03-01, 00:00 authored by Cameo Dalley
Introduced in 2016, the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) is part of a welfare policy trial designed to restrict and direct the expenditure of Aboriginal people receiving a range of government benefits. In this article, I explain that the CDC, also referred to as the “White Card,” appeases the concerns of non-Aboriginal residents and broader Australia and that government is attempting to ameliorate Aboriginal dysfunction. I offer an account of income management in daily life from the perspective of those living with the Card in the East Kimberley town of Wyndham. I describe it as interconnected to a broader range of suite of government policies and enmeshed in broader social and political relations. Focused on participant observation and interviews undertaken with Wyndham residents in the period immediately after the introduction of the Card, this perspective is informed by longer-term research in the region since 2013. I show that the Card acts as a quotidian form of disciplining surveillance against Aboriginal people. It is also a site of reinterpretation and rearticulation through the development of subversive practices by Aboriginal people, what I describe as the labour of endurance: Card holders are trying to endure its effects and manage its invasiveness into their lives.