The Federal government calls it a ‘Human Services Access Card’

We call it for what it is: a National ID Card System

Frequently Asked Question No. 3

How many of your cards will be replaced?

The Government has said throughout that “up to 17 cards will be replaced”.

It isn’t easy to find the list, but we’ve found it and extracted it below. We’ve then had to do the Government’s work for it, by pointing to information about each scheme, and providing an analysis of the claim that a single card will help people.

The 17 Cards

The list includes cards issued by four agencies, in many cases multiple cards per agency. The Child Support Agency appears not to issue any cards at present. One of the agencies, DVA, is outside the DHS super-ministry.

No information has been located that identifies the number of people issued with each category of card. The only general (and hence very-large-volume) card appears to be the Medicare card.

Medicare Australia

There are 6 cards, across 4 distinct programs – Medicare itself, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), the Donor Registration Scheme and the (mysterious?) Cleft Palate Scheme:

  1. Medicare card
  2. Organ Donor Registration card (no information found at all, but here’s a picture)
  3. Medicare Reciprocal Health Care Agreement card (no information found at all)
  4. PBS Safety Net Entitlement card
  5. PBS Concession Card (no information found at all)
  6. Cleft Lip and Palate card


There are 6 cards, also under several distinct programs:

  1. Pensioner Concession card
  2. Healthcare card (correctly called a Health Care Card)
  3. Foster Child Care card (no information found at all)
  4. Low Income Healthcare card
  5. Commonwealth Seniors card
  6. Electronic Benefit Transfer (a single-use card, enabling PIN-protected access to funds at an ATM)

Dept of Veterans’ Affairs

There are 4 cards, under 3 programs:

  1. DVA Gold Repatriation Health card – for all conditions, providing access to the full range of healthcare benefits, either free or at concessional rates
  2. DVA White Repatriation Health card – for specific conditions that have been accepted as being related to the individual’s war service
  3. DVA Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits card (aka the Orange Card) – for soldiers who fought for the allies, but don’t qualify for a disability or service pension. It provides certain medications at reduced rates to some war veterans, currently those over 70
  4. War Widow/Widow’s Transport Concession card

Australian Hearing (1 card):

  1. Office of Hearing Services voucher (a single-use docket, providing full or part payment for a hearing device)

It appears that the Minister may be authorised to extend this list as he sees fit, subject to a limited ‘disallowance’ mechanism in Parliament.


Medicare cards 1 and 3 appear to be mutually exclusive.

Several pairs of Centrelink cards appear to be mututally exclusive.

DVA cards 1-3 appear to be mutually exclusive.

Morover, for a veteran, it appears that having a Medicare card ceases to be strictly necessary. At present, it appears that a veteran can choose to have treatment paid for under either scheme. (But will that arrangement survive the new single-card scheme?).

Furthermore, some Centrelink cards are mutually exclusive with some DVA cards.

In short, no-one has 17 cards now, and it would seem that most people have 1, a few have 2 or 3, and some, but only a very small percentage of people, have more than that.

As one commentator said, “We may finally have found the person who desires this card: they are the poor, fostered, widow/er of a veteran with hearing difficulties and/or a cleft palate, who is seeking a cheap train ticket to the Centrelink office and pharmacy after their doctor’s appointment”.

So there is very little ‘wallet-bulge’ or ‘purse-clutter’ to be saved, because:

  1. few people have more than one or two cards; and
  2. few of these cards currently have to be produced very often at all. The primary need for them appears to be:
    • when a person commences a new relationship with a health care professional or organisation; and
    • when a person is seeking a concession and uses the card as evidence. This occurs most commonly in public transport, and in council offices and cinemas.

Remarkably, the present proposal could actually represent a seriously retrograde step for pensioners who get concessions. Many of the concessions cease to be visually obvious, and instead every organisation that grants concessions is required to install a card-reader, and read every card that is presented!

This is analysis that the Government should have conducted, and published. But if it doesn’t fit the Minister’s agenda, it either isn’t done, or is suppressed.

Further Information on the DVA Gold, White and Orange Cards

These are handled in the same way as the Medicare card. Practitioners collect card details on the first encounter with the patient and store them in their own systems. Veterans don’t need to produce their cards once they have settled into a treatment pattern – which they almost all do.

The car/taxi benefit, where a veteran is entitled to free car transport to services, is organised by the treating professional and no card is required at any stage.

Sources of information on the Gold Card:

For the White and Orange Cards, use the hopelessly inconvenient mechanism at DVA Fact Sheets to access Fact Sheets HSV61 and HSV69.

If you are aware of errors or omissions in this document, please let us know.

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