Download our submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee : NACCHO is strongly opposed to the current cashless debit card trials as well as any proposal to expand.


 

” NACCHO is strongly opposed to the current cashless debit card trials as well as any proposal to expand. We also note that Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected by the trials and that they are in and proposed for locations where the majority participants are Aboriginal. Whilst it is not the stated intent of the trials, its impact is discriminatory.

NACCHO knows that some Aboriginal people and communities need additional support to better manage their lives and ensure that income support funds are used more effectively.

However, NACCHO is firmly of the view that there are significantly better, more cost efficient, alternative approaches that support improvements in Aboriginal wellbeing and positive decision making.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services would be well placed to develop and implement alternative programs. We firmly believe that addressing the ill health of Aboriginal people, including the impacts of alcohol, drug and gambling related harm, can only be achieved by local Aboriginal people controlling health care delivery.

We know that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a genuine say over our lives, the issues that impact on us and can develop our own responses, there is a corresponding improvement in wellbeing. This point is particularly relevant given that the majority of trial participants are Aboriginal. “

Selected extracts from Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018 

Download HERE or Read in Full Part 1 Below

NACCHO submission on cashless debit card final

For background info from NACCH

See recent NACCHO Cashless Debit Cards posts 

Part 1 Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018

On 21 June 2018, the Senate referred the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018 to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report.

Submissions were sought by 20 July 2018. The reporting date is 14 August 2018.

Committee Secretariat contact:

Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: +61 2 6277 3515
Fax: +61 2 6277 5829
community.affairs.sen@aph.gov.au

The following submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee is made by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). NACCHO is the national peak body representing 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) across the country on Aboriginal health and wellbeing issues.

An ACCHO is a primary health care service initiated and operated by the local Aboriginal community to deliver holistic, comprehensive, and culturally appropriate health care to the community which controls it, through a locally elected Board of Governance.

They range from large multi-functional services employing several medical practitioners and providing a wide range of services, to small services which rely on Aboriginal Health Workers and/or nurses to provide the bulk of primary care services, often with a preventive, health education focus. The services form a network, but each is autonomous and independent both of one another and of government.

NACCHO and its members are a living embodiment of the aspirations of Aboriginal communities and their struggle for self-determination. In 1997, the Federal Government funded NACCHO to establish a Secretariat in Canberra which greatly increased the capacity of Aboriginal Peoples involved in ACCHOs to participate in national health policy development.

The integrated primary health care model adopted by ACCHOs is in keeping with the philosophy of Aboriginal community control and the holistic view of health. Addressing the ill health of Aboriginal people can only be achieved by local Aboriginal people controlling health care delivery. Local Aboriginal community control in health is essential to the definition of Aboriginal holistic health and allows Aboriginal communities to determine their own affairs, protocols and procedures.

NACCHO understands that the Bill seeks to amend the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 to: expand the cashless debit card arrangements to a further trial site, the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay area, to run until 30 June 2020; specify the class of trial participants for the area and increase the total number of trial participants overall to 15 000; provide for an exception from the restrictive trade practices provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 for merchants that implement product level blocking systems to identify that a cashless debit card is being used for payment and, if any restricted products are being purchased, decline the transaction; and limit the use of the restricted portion of a payment to prevent the portion being used to obtain cash-like products which could be used to obtain alcohol or gambling.

NACCHO is strongly opposed to the current cashless debit card trials as well as any proposal to expand. We also note that Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected by the trials and that they are in and proposed for locations where the majority participants are Aboriginal. Whilst it is not the stated intent of the trials, its impact is discriminatory.

To assist the Committee in assessing this submission, it has been structured against the following key issues: available evidence on current trials; cost benefit; evaluation; additional services and support; community control and ownership; and expansion.

Available evidence on current trials

NACCHO notes that the recent evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card Trials, notwithstanding the quality of the evaluation, found that:

  • Only 24 per cent of card users reported less alcohol consumption and drug use in their communities, and only 27 per cent of people noting a decrease in gambling.
  • The administration of the card has been confusing and the role of the community panel has not been well implemented: the rules of engaging with the panel and their role is not well understood.
  • Despite the small community improvements, many people remained unhappy with the welfare restrictions, with about half saying it had made their lives worse, and 46 per cent reporting they had problems with the card.

NACCHO believes that this is not a strong enough evidence base to warrant the expansion of the trials to other sites.

We also note that the majority of trial participants identify as Aboriginal in the evaluation and believe that this amounts to a discriminatory policy in its application.

Cost benefit

NACCHO notes that no cost benefit analysis has been undertaken, however we understand from Senate Estimates that the cost of delivering the Cashless Debit Card program is in excess of $12,000 per participant at the time the trial had been running for approximately 12 months.

NACCHO is strongly of the view that this funding could be more effectively spent on early intervention and primary health care strategies targeted towards reducing alcohol, drug and gambling related harm.

Notwithstanding our primary view that the trial funding should be redirected, a robust cost benefit analysis should be undertaken prior to any expansion of the trials and this should be made public. The recently released Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report, The Implementation and Performance of the Cashless Debit Card Trial, concludes that “it is difficult to conclude… whether the card was a lower cost welfare quarantining approach”.

We also note that the notion that the trials will be more cost efficient the more participants are involved is not the basis of a cost benefit analysis and should not be used as a justification of any expansion.

Evaluation

NACCHO notes that there has been public criticism of the evaluation of the trials to date undertaken by ORIMA Research, including by the Australian National University. In particular, NACCHO notes that the evaluation did not include data from state governments relating to alcohol related crimes and alcohol related hospital admissions. This data is crucial to building a robust evaluation framework and assessing the trial impact for the current and any future sites.

We note that the ANAO Report also found that the “approach to the monitoring and evaluation of the trial was inadequate”. The ANAO report further found that there was a lack of robustness in the data collection and the evaluation did not make use of administrative data available to measure the impact of the trial.

The lack of robust evaluation framework and corresponding evidence means it is not possible to conclude that there has been a reduction in alcohol and drug related harm as a result of the trial. This view is also supported by the ANAO Report.

NACCHO also recommends that any evaluation should be considered alongside the effectiveness of other community driven and community controlled initiatives and programs to help tackle alcohol and drug related harm in particular communities.

Additional services and support

NACCHO notes that additional prevention and support services were announced as part of the current trials. We believe these services are critical to supporting communities tackle harm caused by alcohol, drugs and gambling. The cashless debit card has not been effective and should not be considered as a stand alone response to community harm and disadvantage.

We further understand that the proposed services in current sites have been slow to implement and, in many cases, would be insufficient to address community dysfunction. Any expansion of the trials should be coupled with a significant package of early intervention and prevention services.

Community control and ownership

NACCHO knows that some Aboriginal people and communities need additional support to better manage their lives and ensure that income support funds are used more effectively. However, NACCHO is firmly of the view that there are significantly better, more cost efficient, alternative approaches that support improvements in Aboriginal wellbeing and positive decision making.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services would be well placed to develop and implement alternative programs. We firmly believe that addressing the ill health of Aboriginal people, including the impacts of alcohol, drug and gambling related harm, can only be achieved by local Aboriginal people controlling health care delivery. We know that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a genuine say over our lives, the issues that impact on us and can develop our own responses, there is a corresponding improvement in wellbeing. This point is particularly relevant given that the majority of trial participants are Aboriginal.

We note that the ANAO ReporProposed expansiont concludes that aspects of the current trial have informed the proposed wider roll out, but that the current trial was not designed to test the scalability and thus has not been evaluated with this in mind.

NACCHO is opposed to the further roll out and expansion of the cashless debit card trials. We believe there is: insufficient evidence of the current trials’ success; a lack of information about the cost of the trials and a cost benefit analysis; insufficient planning and consultations to help inform an expansion; insufficient additional supports and services in current trial sites and that is being funded for the proposed new locations; and that other community driven programs and initiatives should be explored in locations where there is entrenched social harm caused by alcohol, drugs and gambling.

Based on the evidence to date and the findings in the ANAO Report, we believe that the proposed expansion in this Bill is not justified.

NACCHO @TheAHCWA Aboriginal Health and the Cashless Welfare card debate

 

 ” Graphic video footage played recently to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other influential politicians cuts to the core. It is horrific, sickening and gut-wrenching, and would affect any compassionate human being.

But the intent behind the carefully edited emotive video – further pushing a ( Cashless Welfare ) card to supposedly tackle every imaginable social problem in vulnerable communities – is ill-conceived and ideologically driven.

Michelle Nelson-Cox Chair  : Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia press release Opinion piece (part 2 Below )

 

 ” We need to recognise that the best way of dealing with problems is with respect, working together, and focussed on commonly agreed goals. We do not need a new generation of community members under the control of those who want to use punitive measures to coerce and control them. When has this approach ever been shown to work?

We need to ask why we are not doing it differently, treating the very causes of the dislocation and alienation of our communities — facing up to and turning around the hopelessness and despair that beleaguers them.

The Rural Doctors have made it clear when they said: “Those that do have problems will not be helped by measures that feel punitive, such as switching them to a cashless debit card, rather than payments. Tough love is rarely successful in treating substance abuse – particularly when it’s from the Government.”

I support the Rural Doctors and our community organisations working with families dealing with these issues. This is where we have to take this debate.”

Shadow assistant minister for Indigenous affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Senator for Western Australia, Patrick Dodson responds to article portraying the state as a ‘war zone’ .Full article HERE

” Senator Rachel Siewert has criticised a new video campaign showing graphic depictions of violence in Indigenous communities as shock tactics designed to scare the Federal Government into rolling out more cashless welfare cards in remote Western Australia.

Using violent imagery then offering a one-dimensional, paternalistic and previously failed approach to a complex problem shows that Andrew Forrest is more concerned about furthering his ideologies than looking at what works.

“I share concerns about disadvantage and agree we need to be addressing severe disadvantage in communities like Port Hedland. We need a multifaceted approach including addressing alcohol supply, drug and alcohol services, and wrap around services driven by the community.

“I agree we do need to be investing in communities but in approaches that work ‘ Senator Rachel Siewert

Read Senator Rachel Siewert full press release part 4 below

Mining magnate Andrew Forrest and local leaders from the East Kimberley region, last week launched #timetoact an online anti-violence campaign in the nation’s capital. It features a video that shows disturbing scene of violence.”

Watch video HERE

” The concerted push by outgoing WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan that the cashless welfare system should be expanded to somehow protect children from sexual abuse, particularly in the north-west town of Roebourne, is fundamentally flawed.

There has been no conclusive evidence to date that cashless welfare cards play any role in reducing the impact of issues such as illicit drug use or child sexual abuse.

Instead, greater investment is needed in programs that address social determinants and build strong families and communities.

Ultimately, we need to see an increase in community programs and comprehensive support services to help address these complex social issues in Aboriginal communities.

AHCWA does not support simplistic apparent solutions imposed from outside Aboriginal communities. Rather, it advocates for greater investment in community designed and driven programs to build strong families and communities.

Our sector has been delivering positive outcomes in Aboriginal health for more than 40 years, but in that time we have often dealt with the unintended negative consequences of whatever “silver bullet” solution is politically fashionable at the time.

Extracts from Michelle Nelson-Cox Chair  : Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia press release (part 1and 2 below)

 

Elder Ted Carlton with a card

Part 1 : AHCWA rejects Karl O’Callaghan’s call to expand cashless welfare

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia has challenged outgoing Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan to look in his own backyard and adequately police remote communities rather than advocate for greater disempowerment of indigenous Australians.

AHCWA chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox today rejected calls by Mr O’Callaghan, whose contract ends on August 15 after 13 years at the helm of WA Police, for an urgent expansion of the cashless welfare system to combat child sex crimes in regional WA.

“The cashless welfare card is not a panacea to complex social problems,” Ms Nelson-Cox said.

“While AHCWA supports the government’s commitment to improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal people and prevent child sexual abuse, we do not support the ill-conceived idea that cashless welfare cards can turn the tide on the abhorrent abuse of children.

“There has been no conclusive evidence to date that cashless welfare cards play any role in reducing the impact of issues such as illicit drug use or child sexual abuse.

“Instead, greater investment is needed in programs that address social determinants and build strong families and communities.

“Ultimately, we need to see an increase in community programs and comprehensive support services to help address these complex social issues in Aboriginal communities.”

Ms Nelson-Cox said Mr O’Callaghan’s admissions in The West Australian newspaper that his officers could not protect children in remote communities was gravely concerning.

“At what point does the buck stop with police and governments to keep communities safe? Over the past 13 years, how have the high instances of sexual abuse not have been addressed earlier?” she said.

“There is a large police presence in Roebourne, and admissions by Karl O’Callaghan that ‘police were not capable of protecting children in those communities’ and ‘neither the police nor government can guarantee protection of these children’ shows a lack of commitment to work with communities to effectively address these issues.

“The reality is there are a huge number of people very unhappy with the way they have been affected by the cashless welfare system imposed by the Federal Government.

“If anything, this is a failure of policing in the Roebourne area to address these crimes.

“The cashless welfare card does not need to be expanded. The solution does not lie in the disempowerment of Aboriginal people, but rather additional police resources and a greater commitment to stamp out these shocking and abhorrent crimes.”

AHCWA is the peak body for Aboriginal health in WA, with 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) currently engaged as members.

Part 2 : AHCWA rejects Karl O’Callaghan’s call to expand cashless welfare

 

Graphic video footage played recentlt to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other influential politicians cuts to the core. It is horrific, sickening and gut-wrenching, and would affect any compassionate human being.

But the intent behind the carefully edited emotive video – further pushing a card to supposedly tackle every imaginable social problem in vulnerable communities – is ill-conceived and ideologically driven.

The concerted push by outgoing WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan that the cashless welfare system should be expanded to somehow protect children from sexual abuse, particularly in the north-west town of Roebourne, is fundamentally flawed.

The belief that the cashless welfare card can prevent child sexual abuse is based on nothing more than a distorted perception that quarantining income will address all social problems in remote Aboriginal communities.

To date, there has been no conclusive evidence that cashless welfare cards play any role in reducing the impact of issues such as illicit drug use or sexual abuse.

In fact, the most comprehensive review of income management in the Northern Territory has proven that this strategy will not work and will likely only create further dependence.

WA communities like Roebourne do not need the next new idea imposed by white people who live elsewhere.

Instead, they need to work with Aboriginal people and support under resourced local initiatives already being worked on.

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) is the peak body for Aboriginal health in WA, with 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) currently engaged as members.

AHCWA does not support simplistic apparent solutions imposed from outside Aboriginal communities. Rather, it advocates for greater investment in community designed and driven programs to build strong families and communities.

Our sector has been delivering positive outcomes in Aboriginal health for more than 40 years, but in that time we have often dealt with the unintended negative consequences of whatever “silver bullet” solution is politically fashionable at the time. These days, the cashless welfare card is seen as the quick fix.

The cashless welfare card has been delivered as part of a Cashless Debit Card Trial (CDCT), a program developed to reduce the harm associated with alcohol consumption, illicit drug use and gambling in Ceduna in South Australia and the East Kimberley in WA (Kununurra and Wyndham).

The trial began in early 2016, when participants were issued a debit card which could not be used to buy alcohol, gambling products or to withdraw cash.

The system quarantines 80 per cent of income support payments into a restricted account linked to the card, with the remainder of these payments accessible through a normal, unrestricted bank account.

Remarkably, and perhaps unsurprisingly, an evaluation of the current trial showed that the majority of people using the card, and their families, did not report gambling, using illicit drugs, or consuming alcohol in excess.

To put it simply, this trial has been socially disempowering for a huge number of community members. Strong resistance and opposition has been made clear at public meetings, strikes and petitions.

Admissions by Karl O’Callaghan in the video shown to the PM that “police can’t save them” shows a lack of commitment to work with communities to effectively address these issues.

If anything, his comments reflect a failure of policing in the Roebourne area to address these crimes and protect the town’s most vulnerable people.

We support any commitment to improve the safety and health of Aboriginal people, particularly children, in WA and turn the tide on the appalling abuse of our youngsters, but the answer is not an expansion of the cashless welfare card.

The solution does not lie in the disempowerment of Aboriginal people, which has been an ongoing tactic by governments. Instead it lies in additional police resources and a genuine commitment to work with communities to stamp out these shocking and abhorrent crimes.

We agree it is time to act – it is time for the police to act.

“Using violent imagery then offering a one-dimensional, paternalistic and previously failed approach to a complex problem shows that Andrew Forrest is more concerned about furthering his ideologies than looking at what works,” Senator Siewert said today.

“I share concerns about disadvantage and agree we need to be addressing severe disadvantage in communities like Port Hedland. We need a multifaceted approach including addressing alcohol supply, drug and alcohol services, and wrap around services driven by the community.”

Part 3  :  Graphic video campaign pushing for welfare card slammed as ‘one dimensional’  

Continued from opening                                

Mr Forrest was joined yesterday by Jean O’Reerie, Aboriginal Education Worker from Wyndham in East Kimberley- a Cashless Debit Card trial site, her colleague, local Bianca Crake, and the Mayor of Port Hedland, Mr Camillo Blanko.

Mr Forrest claims that the government’s current system to stop drug and alcohol fuelled violence against children in the Pilbara and East Kimberley region isn’t working.

Linking what he described as horrific child abuse to alcohol and drug use, Mr Forrest is pushing for the Cashless Welfare Card to be introduced into more West Australian communities.

“Elders of communities, mayors of major towns are standing up and saying enough is enough. We need the system to change. What we have had is not enough. It’s delivering our children into hell and they have to be protected,” he told a media conference yesterday.

Mr Forrest yesterday brough elders and civic leaders, from Western Australia and South Australia, to meet personally with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the leader of the opposition Bill Shorten and his deputy leader Tanya Plibersek.

Figures from the West Australian Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan’s department claimed that one in three children are being abused, in a town of 500 children – 158 were sexually assaulted, 36 men face 300 charges of child abuse and in another town six children committed suicide in six months. It was not specified whether the children affected were Indigenous or Non- Indigenous.

Jean O’Reerie an Aboriginal Education Worker from Wyndham in the East Kimberley was emotional as she described the situation in her community.

“We need help, we need the government to intervene and help us out as community leaders. We can’t do it on our own. We need change for our community, our kids are hurting,” she said.

“We, the grassroots people, live with it every day. The hurt, the suffering, and the abuse.”

Part 4 : Trying to scare people into supporting the cashless card a worrying ramp up of Andrew Forrest’s campaign: Senator Rachel Siewert

Andrew Forrest is trying to use similar shock tactics to those of the previous Howard Government to scare people into supporting the cashless welfare card, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said last week

“We are seeing a worrying ramp up of Andrew Forrest’s cashless welfare card campaign that uses children, violence and fear just like the Howard Government did in 2007 over the NT Intervention.

“The Howard Government did this to justify the Northern Territory Intervention to impose income management and the Basics Card, at the time the Little Children are Sacred report was used to scare people into supporting income management.

“The final evaluation of the NT Intervention shows that it met none of its objectives. Ten years on we are still seeing the number of children going into out of home care increasing and appalling disadvantage persists.

Using violent imagery then offering a one-dimensional, paternalistic and previously failed approach to a complex problem shows that Andrew Forrest is more concerned about furthering his ideologies than looking at what works.

“I share concerns about disadvantage and agree we need to be addressing severe disadvantage in communities like Port Hedland. We need a multifaceted approach including addressing alcohol supply, drug and alcohol services, and wrap around services driven by the community.

“I agree we do need to be investing in communities but in approaches that work. The Government invested over $1.2 billion in the NT Intervention which met none of its objectives. We should stop wasting money on income management style approaches and start looking at real solutions that work”.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Download the Evaluation 265 Page Report Cashless Debit Card trial sites

The Government has agreed to extend the Cashless Debit Card trial sites in Ceduna, South Australia and East Kimberley, Western Australia due to the strong independent evaluation results, released today and in consultation with community leaders.

Download : Initial Conditions Report; Wave 1 Interim Evaluation Report ORIMA Research

Cashless Debit Card Report

The Wave 1 Report of the independent evaluation being undertaken by ORIMA Research concluded that “overall, the [trial] has been effective to date… in particular, the trial has been effective in reducing alcohol consumption, illegal drug use and gambling – establishing a clear ‘proof-of-concept’.”

The Cashless Debit Card aims to reduce the devastating effects of welfare fuelled alcohol, drug and gambling abuse. Over time it is hoped the card will assist people to break the cycle of welfare dependency by stabilising their lives and helping them into employment.

The Report found “most stakeholders felt that excessive alcohol consumption was at a “crisis point” and was having wide-ranging negative impacts on individuals, their families and the community.”

Under the current trial, 80 per cent of welfare payments are placed onto a recipient’s card, with the remaining 20 per cent placed into their regular bank account.

The trial has consisted of 3 parts – a Cashless Debit Card, comprehensive support services to help people break their addictions, and a community leadership group to guide the design and implementation.

The Report outlines key results across the two trial sites including:

  • Alcohol – on average, of trial participants surveyed who reported that they do drink alcohol, 25% of participants and 13% of family members reported drinking alcohol less frequently, whilst 25% of participants reported engaging in binge drinking less frequently.
  • Gambling – on average, of trial participants surveyed who reported they do gamble, 32% of participants and 15% of family members reported gambling less.
  • Drug use – on average, of trial participants surveyed who reported using illegal drugsbefore the trial commenced, 24% reported using illegal drugs less often.

In addition, the evaluation data states a significant proportion (31%) of the participants surveyed indicated they had been better able to care for children and save more money.

Reductions in alcohol consumption, illegal drug use and gambling have been “largely driven by the impact of the debit card quarantining mechanism and not by the additional services provided,” according to the Report.

The Report supports other data from local partners and anecdotal feedback:

The number of pick-ups made by the Kununurra Miriwoong Community Patrol Service for Alcohol in January 2017 was 19 per cent lower than in January 2016.

Monthly poker machine revenue in Ceduna and surrounding local government areas in January 2017 is 12 per cent lower compared to January 2016.

Admissions to the Wyndham Sobering-Up Unit in September 2016 were 49 per cent lower than before the trial began in September 2015.

The senior medical officer in the East Kimberley has reported a “dramatic reduction in alcohol related presentations to the emergency department”

The Ceduna mayor says that “it is the quietest the town has been.”

Retailers in both sites report an increase in white goods, clothes, food and household items purchased since the introduction of the card.

Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, worked with the community leaders on the design and implementation of the trial and believes the results support an extension of the card.

“The card is a not a panacea, but it has led to stark improvements in these communities.

There are very few other initiatives that have had such impact.

“A large part of the success has been the close working relationship with local leaders, whohave co-designed and implemented the trial with us. The South Australian and Western Australian State Governments have also been very supportive.

“There is still a lot of work to do, but if we can continue on this path, then over time we can make these communities safe, healthy and prosperous once again,” Minister Tudge said.

The extension of the card will allow the Government to make fully informed decisions about the future of welfare conditionality. The final evaluation report by ORIMA Research is due mid-2017.

Cashless Debit Card Trial – Overview

The Commonwealth Government is looking at the best possible ways to provide support to people, families and communities in locations where high levels of welfare dependence exist alongside high levels of harm related to drug and alcohol abuse.

The Cashless Debit Card Trial is aimed at finding an effective tool for supporting disadvantaged communities to reduce the consumption and effects of drugs, alcohol and gambling that impact on the health and wellbeing of communities, families and children.

How the cashless debit card works

The cashless debit card looks and operates like a normal bank card, except it cannot be used to buy alcohol or gambling products, or to withdraw cash.

The card can be used anywhere that accepts debit cards. It will work online, for shopping and paying bills. The Indue website lists the approved merchants (link is external) and excluded merchants (link is external) for the trial.

Who will take part in the trial?

Under the trial, all recipients of working age income support payments who live in a trial location will receive a cashless debit card.

The full list of included payments is available on the Guides to Social Security Law website.

People on the Age Pension, a veteran’s payment or who earn a wage can volunteer to take part in the trial. Information on volunteering for the trial is available. Application forms for people who wish to volunteer can be downloaded from the Indue website (link is external).

How will it affect Centrelink payments?

The trial doesn’t change the amount of money a person receives from Centrelink. It only changes the way in which people receive and spend their fortnightly payments:

  • 80 per cent is paid onto the cashless debit card
  • 20 per cent is paid into a person’s regular bank account.

Cashless debit card calculator

To work out how much will be paid onto your cashless debit card, enter your fortnightly payment amount into the following calculator.

Enter amount of fortnightly Centrelink payment Calculate

Money on the card 

Use it for:

  • Groceries
  • Pay bills
  • Buy clothes
  • Travel
  • Online

Anywhere with eftpos except:

  • No grog
  • No gambling
  • No cash

   Note: 100% of lump sum payments will be placed on the card. More information is available on the Guides to Social Security Law website.

More information

For more information, email debitcardtrial@dss.gov.au (link sends e-mail) or call 1800 252 604

This weeks NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts will  include

Wednesday Job alerts Thursday NACCHO Members Good News

How to submit ? Email to Colin Cowell NACCHO Media   4.30 pm  day before publication

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Alcohol : Cashless welfare card in Indigenous communities ‘cuts use of alcohol and drugs says new report

“But what we had before the card, which is just open sort of slather of people buying heaps of alcohol with the money that they get, the amount of damage it was doing, I think that this is definitely an improvement on what we had previously,”

I  would support the card being rolled out across the country.

Yes I do, I think this is a more responsible way of actually delivering support and social services to our people regardless of what colour they are,”

Ian Trust, the executive director of the Wunan Foundation, an Aboriginal development organisation in the East Kimberley in Western Australia, said his support for the card had come at a personal cost. SEE ABC Report Photo: A Kununurra resident in WA’s Kimberley holding a cashless welfare card. (ABC News: Erin Parke)

“Inevitably, people would prefer to have fewer restrictions than more restrictions, particularly if you are an alcoholic, but the evaluation and the data shows that it is having a positive net impact on reducing alcoholism, gambling and illicit substance abuse.

The rights of the community, of the children and of elderly citizens to live in a safe community are equally important as the rights of welfare recipients.”

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said while the card was not a “panacea”, it had led to stark improvements in the trial communities, warranting an extension of the card, despite it not being popular with all welfare recipients. Reported by Sarah Martin in Todays Australian

A cashless welfare card that stops government benefits being spent on drugs and alcohol will be made permanent in two remote communities and looks set to be ­expanded, after trials found it greatly reduced rates of substance abuse and gambling.

The 175-page government commissioned review by Orima Research of the year-long trial.

The evaluation involved interviewing stakeholders, participants and their families.

It found on average a quarter of people using the card who drank said they were not drinking as often.

While just under a third of gamblers said they had curbed that habit.

The Turnbull government will today release the first major independent audit of the cashless welfare system and announce that the card will continue in Ceduna and East Kimberley, subject to six-monthly reviews.

Establishing a clear “proof of concept” in the two predomin­antly indigenous communities also paves the way for the ­Coalition to roll out the welfare spending restrictions further, with townships in regional Western Australia and South Australia believed to be under consideration.

In October, Malcolm Turnbull flagged that an expansion of the welfare card was dependent on the results of the 12-month trial, but praised the scheme’s ­initial success in reducing the amount of taxpayer money being spent on alcohol and illicit drugs.

Under the welfare shake-up, first flagged in Andrew Forrest’s review of the welfare system in 2014, 80 per cent of a person’s benefit is restricted to a Visa debit card that cannot be used for spending on alcohol or gambling products or converted to cash. After year-long trials at the two sites capturing $10 million in welfare payments, the first quantitative assessment of the scheme has found that 24 per cent of card users reported less alcohol consumption and drug use in their communities, with 27 per cent of people noting a drop in gambling.

See full details support and Q and A below from DSS

Binge drinking and the frequency of alcohol consumption by card users was also down by about 25 per cent among those who said they were drinkers ­before the trials began.

Those not on welfare saw even greater benefits, with an average of 41 per cent of non-participant community members across the two trial sites reporting a ­reduction in the drinking of alcohol in their area since the trial started. The report concluded that, overall, the card “has been effective in reducing alcohol consumption, illegal drug use and gambling — establishing a clear ‘proof-of-concept’ and meeting the necessary preconditions for the planned medium-term outcomes in relation to reduced levels of harm related to these behaviours”.

However the audit, undertaken by ORIMA Research, found that despite the community improvements, many people remained unhappy with the welfare restrictions, with about half saying it had made their lives worse, and 46 per cent reporting they had problems with the card.

This view was reversed in the wider community, with 46 per cent of non-participants saying the trial had made life in their community better, and only 18 per cent reporting that it had made life worse.

Many of the reported problems with the card were attributed to user error or “imperfect knowledge and systems” among some merchants. Of the 32,237 declined transactions between April and September last year, 86.2 per cent were because of user error, with more than half found to be because account holders had insufficient funds.

While there was a large amount of anecdotal evidence in favour of the card, there were also reports of a rise in humbugging — where family members are harassed for money — and some reports of an increase in crime linked to the need for cash, including prostitution.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said while the card was not a “panacea”, it had led to stark improvements in the trial communities, warranting an extension of the card, despite it not being popular with all welfare recipients. However, he stressed that no decision had been made to expand the card to new sites, which would require legislation.

“Inevitably, people would prefer to have fewer restrictions than more restrictions, particularly if you are an alcoholic, but the evaluation and the data shows that it is having a positive net impact on reducing alcoholism, gambling and illicit substance abuse,” Mr Tudge said. “The rights of the community, of the children and of elderly citizens to live in a safe community are equally important as the rights of welfare recipients.”

The government has introduced the card only to regions where it has the support of community leaders, allowing the Coalition to secure the backing of Labor for the two trial sites despite opposition from the Greens and the Australian Council of Social Service.

Liberal MP Melissa Price, who represents the vast West Australian regional electorate of Durack, said yesterday she was hopeful the card could be rolled out across the Kimberley, the Pilbara and the Goldfields, estimating that about half of the 52 councils in her electorate had expressed an interest in signing up.

“I know it is not popular with everybody, but we are in government and we need to make these decisions to improve people’s lives; if we don’t make changes, nothing changes,” Ms Price said.

Cashless Debit Card Trial – Overview

The Commonwealth Government is looking at the best possible ways to provide support to people, families and communities in locations where high levels of welfare dependence exist alongside high levels of harm related to drug and alcohol abuse.

The Cashless Debit Card Trial is aimed at finding an effective tool for supporting disadvantaged communities to reduce the consumption and effects of drugs, alcohol and gambling that impact on the health and wellbeing of communities, families and children.

How the cashless debit card works

The cashless debit card looks and operates like a normal bank card, except it cannot be used to buy alcohol or gambling products, or to withdraw cash.

The card can be used anywhere that accepts debit cards. It will work online, for shopping and paying bills. The Indue website lists the approved merchants (link is external) and excluded merchants (link is external) for the trial.

Who will take part in the trial?

Under the trial, all recipients of working age income support payments who live in a trial location will receive a cashless debit card.

The full list of included payments is available on the Guides to Social Security Law website.

People on the Age Pension, a veteran’s payment or who earn a wage can volunteer to take part in the trial. Information on volunteering for the trial is available. Application forms for people who wish to volunteer can be downloaded from the Indue website (link is external).

How will it affect Centrelink payments?

The trial doesn’t change the amount of money a person receives from Centrelink. It only changes the way in which people receive and spend their fortnightly payments:

  • 80 per cent is paid onto the cashless debit card
  • 20 per cent is paid into a person’s regular bank account.

Cashless debit card calculator

To work out how much will be paid onto your cashless debit card, enter your fortnightly payment amount into the following calculator.

Enter amount of fortnightly Centrelink payment Calculate

Money on the card 

Use it for:

  • Groceries
  • Pay bills
  • Buy clothes
  • Travel
  • Online

Anywhere with eftpos except:

  • No grog
  • No gambling
  • No cash

   Note: 100% of lump sum payments will be placed on the card. More information is available on the Guides to Social Security Law website.

More information

For more information, email debitcardtrial@dss.gov.au (link sends e-mail) or call 1800 252 604

This weeks NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts will  include

Wednesday Job alerts Thursday NACCHO Members Good News

How to submit ? Email to Colin Cowell NACCHO Media   4.30 pm  day before publication

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Cashless Welfare Card : NACCHO CEO Pat Turner questions lack of evidence

the-card

“The cashless welfare card is unfair, a form of control and reminds Aboriginal people every day that they are treated as second- and third-class citizens in their own land,”

One of the key issues in many of the areas where the card operates, such as in remote areas of South Australia, is the difficulty of accessing fresh produce at reasonable prices.

Where is the evidence that this card increases this access and enables Aboriginal people to get the healthy food they need?

A person’s dignity can also be lost when having to use such a card which can also have detrimental impacts on both their mental and physical health and wellbeing.”

Pat Turner, the chief executive of NACCHO  national peak body on Aboriginal health

From Melissa Davey The Guardian

pat-naccho-ceo2

The welfare card was “unfair” and “a form of control”, Turner said in response to a Guardian Australia report from the South Australian town of Ceduna which found welfare recipients on the card felt disempowered and dictated to.

But Turner, who before being appointed to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (Naccho) was the longest-serving chief executive of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and spent 18 months as Monash Chair of Australian Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, questioned the evidence from the government’s report

The trial of the card, known as the indue card, began in Ceduna in March and in the Western Australian towns of Kununurra and Wyndham in April. Welfare recipients in those towns now receive 80% of their welfare payments into the indue card, which cannot be used to withdraw cash or buy alcohol or gambling products. The remaining 20% can be withdrawn as cash.

The government, including the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the human services minister, Alan Tudge, say the card has so far been a success.

In a report released six months into the card’s trial, anecdotal evidence and early data found poker machine revenue in the Ceduna region between April and August last year was 15.1% lower than for the equivalent period in 2015.

There had also been a strong uptake of financial counselling, the report said, with 300 people seeking counselling since the trial began. Anecdotally, there had been a significant decline in people requesting basic supplies like milk and sugar from the Koonibba Community Shopfront in Ceduna, the report also said.

Most people on welfare in the trial towns are Aboriginal.

Guardian Australia has contacted the Department of Health and Human Services for comment.

The strength of data used in the government’s cashless welfare card progress report has been questioned by Aboriginal elders, health economists and the Greens senator, Rachel Siewert.