Hervey Bay's Kathryn Wilkes
Hervey Bay's Kathryn Wilkes Mike Knott BUN210119BILL5

Anti-card activist asked to back up campaign claims

SHE has devoted years of her life to fighting the Cashless Debit Card - even though she's not on it and likely never will be.

Kathryn Wilkes, a Hervey Bay disability support pensioner, spends much of her time managing the 15 Facebook pages she's created to the fight against the card. The Australia-wide page has almost 7000 members and one for Hinkler residents 2192.

Ms Wilkes also started an online petition that has more than 3000 signatures, aimed at ending the trials.

She believes about two thirds of those on the page are Hervey Bay and Bundaberg residents, while people from other areas have also joined.

The Hinkler page has a cover photo detailing the concerns of those who oppose the card, fearing it could lead to homelessness, suicide and social exclusion.

But the massive social upheaval predicted and still claimed on these pages has been dismissed as propaganda by supporters of the cashless card.

Asked whether there was proof the card had led to such extremes, Ms Wilkes said she had been in touch with a family that had been made homeless after being unable to pay their rent and another woman who had made a suicide attempt in part because of the stress of being on the card.

The woman has since been removed from the trial on compassionate grounds, Ms Wilkes said.

She said often people did not want to speak on the record about the cashless card because they were too embarrassed.

"I wish more would come out," she said.

Twice she has visited Canberra to take on politicians.

"It impacts on people's autonomy, human rights and freedom," she said.

"I wanted to give a voice to those who were not being heard."

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