Cashless Debit Card could be a catalyst for change

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

An opportunity to improve the lot of local welfare recipients, their children and the entire community is on the table following last night’s Federal Budget announcement of two additional communities for the Cashless Debit Card (CDC).

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt is calling on the community to show its support for the introduction of the CDC in our region.

“Evaluation of the CDC trials in Ceduna and the East Kimberley shows significant reductions in gambling, drug use, alcohol consumption and an improvement in the care of children,” Mr Pitt said.

The independent evaluation into the trials in Ceduna and the East Kimberley reported that across the two trial sites, on average, trial participants surveyed reported:

• 25% of participants said they were drinking less alcohol and 25% engaged in less binge drinking.

• 32% said they gambled less.

• 24% said they used illegal drugs less often.

• 31% said they were better able to save money and care for their children.

Emergency services in the region have reported that alcohol is one of the main reasons for admissions to the emergency wards and recent statistics showed that gambling and illicit drug use is a major problem in Hinkler.

“While consulting with community groups and stakeholders recently, to find a way to improve the outcomes for those on unemployment benefits, there were a number of suggestions made, including a cashless debit card.

“I heard loud and clear from workers at the coal face and community and welfare groups that we need to do something and I believe this cashless debit card is a way forward.”

The new locations will be identified in consultation with local communities and will be selected based on a range of factors including community readiness and willingness, high levels of disadvantage and welfare dependence and high levels of social hardship caused by welfare fuelled alcohol, drugs and gambling abuse.

“To be considered as a location for the cashless debit card we need the support of the community. There are communities all over Australia who want to be part of the card rollout, but I believe this could benefit Hinkler residents and provide the additional support they need,” Mr Pitt said.

During the trial phase, the CDC sites worked with government to target $2.6M in additional community services to support the trial including more drug and alcohol services, financial counselling and other support services.

“It’s not just the cashless debit card, but a whole raft of services that could come along with it, that I think will make a real improvement to those welfare recipients in the Hinkler electorate.

“If we are successful I would be calling for funds to look at additional job creation projects so welfare recipients can find a job and get themselves out of the welfare cycle and into meaningful employment.

“The unemployment rate in Hinkler is unacceptably high but we can’t just keep doing the same thing and expect a different result,” he said.

Mr Pitt is encouraging the Hinkler community to voice their views on the CDC.

“Call my office or send an email – I want to know your views on the cashless debit card.

“It could be the catalyst for a positive change in this community and I am fighting for what’s best for Hinkler residents.”