West Australians Offered Payout If They Sign up to Digital ID

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Parents can get $250 for each secondary student and $150 for each primary student and kindergartener—provided they sign up for the ServicesWA app.

West Australian parents are being offered what the state government calls a Student Assistance Payment to help with the cost of living, but the only way they can easily access it is through the ServiceWA app which requires “an active digital identity.”

Any student from kindergarten to Year 12 is eligible for the support, regardless of whether they go to a public school, a non-government school or are registered for home schooling.

The payment is worth $250 (US$163) for each secondary student and $150 for younger children. The payment is not means-tested, so anyone with school-aged children can claim it.

People inquiring online about the payment are advised to download the app, and directed to the Australian Government Digital Identity System website to obtain a digital ID if they don’t already have one. The only ID accepted by ServiceWA is the federal government’s myGovID.

Obtaining that requires that a person provide a personal (“not a shared or work”) email address and upload two identity documents, such as a passport and driver’s licence.

While the opposition supported the payment, its education spokesman Peter Rundle said families had told him “the application process for this funding is burdensome” and said, “It was a strange decision to gatekeep this funding behind the clunky and unhelpful ServiceWA app.”

Claiming Without Digital ID ‘Not as Fast and Convenient’

Tech commentator and author of the blog Dystopian Down Under, Rebekah Barnett, pointed out that digital ID is voluntary in Australia, so the WA government has made it possible to claim the one-off payment without one, and without creating a profile on the services app.

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However, she warns that claiming without an ID would “not be as fast and convenient” as the website only mentions the option under a “questions and answers” section rather than on the main page explaining the payments. Nor was it mentioned when Premier Roger Cook and Education Minister Tony Buti announced the policy on Sunday.

Beyond that warning, there is no information online about how to claim the payment without registering for Digital ID and signing into the ServiceWA app, so people are forced to call the phone helpline.

Ms. Barnett said she and a parent both tried calling the phone number and were unable to obtain any details about the non-digital claims process:

  1. “Call the line and wait on hold.
  2. Speak to an operator who tells you to go online to register for Digital ID.
  3. Persist, only to find out there are no manual claim forms available yet—it will appear when the claims period commences on 15 April.
  4. The operator doesn’t have any further information because all they’ve been told is to direct everyone to get digital ID and sign up for the Service WA app.
  5. Wait a month, keep checking back for the form to appear, download it, mail it, then wait probably a month processing time for the whole process to play out.”

She said they were the “oldest tricks in the book for coaxing a compliant population down this path, not that one. Sound familiar?”

She cited the over $1.2 million in “discounts, freebies, and prizes from airlines, restaurants, hotels, and other services” offered to people who were vaccinated for COVID-19, as well as lesser-known incentives such as the offer by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation Kimberwalli offering to pay off fines of Indigenous people in exchange for their agreeing to be vaccinated.

Ms. Barnett warned that similar incentives and disincentives were likely to apply once the proposed national digital ID is introduced, even though it will be voluntary according to the government.

“One can only imagine what cyber emergencies are around the corner to justify a ‘voluntary’ digital ID program in which you will not be able to work, travel or socialise without ‘voluntarily’ opting in,” she said.

Claims for the WA payments open on Monday, April 15, and must be lodged by Friday, June 28.

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