NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Food security #IndigenousNCDs : Welfare reform is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people impoverishing them and resulting in the consumption of unhealthy foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases

What national and average Closing the Gap figures do not tell us is just how badly the estimated 170,000 Indigenous people in remote and very remote Australia are faring. This region where I focus my work covers 86 per cent of the Australian continent.

In the last decade new race-based instruments have been devised to regulate Indigenous people including their forms of expenditure (via income management), forms of working via the Community Development Programme (CDP) and their places of habitation, where they might access basic citizenship services.

All these measures have implications for consumption of market commodities, including food from shops, and of customary non-market goods, including food from the bush.

Owing to deep poverty, many people can only purchase relatively cheap and unhealthy takeaway foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases, like acute heart and kidney disorders, followed by lung cancer from smoking.

With income management Aboriginal people are being coerced to shop at stores according to the government’s rhetoric for their ‘food security’. Before the introduction of this regime many more people were exercising their ‘food sovereignty’ right to harvest far healthier foods from the bush.

Extracts from Jon Altman a research professor in anthropology at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University, Melbourne.

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A version of this article was first published in the Land Rights News

READ over 5 Articles NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Nutrition 

READ Articles NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Welfare Card 

” 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 

NACCHO submission on cashless debit card final

As is the case in many countries, Indigenous people in Australia, New Zealand, United States of America and Canada are disproportionately affected by NCDs.

Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer,  smoking related lung disease and mental health conditions are the five main NCDs identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and these are almost uniformly experienced by Indigenous peoples at higher rates than other people.

Indigenous people globally are disproportionately affected by diabetes. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 6 times more likely than the non-Indigenous population to die from diabetes. In Canada, Indigenous peoples are 3-5 times more likely to have diabetes than other citizens.

Indigenous people are also more likely to have Cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease accounts for almost a quarter of the mortality gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. Maori people are 3-4.2 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than other people in New Zealand.

These numbers are not improving, despite national rates of smoking decreasing, and increased social marketing aimed at reducing sugar consumption and increasing physical activity.

Mainstream solutions do little to reduce the burden of NCDs for Indigenous populations. The broader social determinants of health have a huge role to play, and until these are addressed in a meaningful way, Indigenous peoples will continue to experience an inequitable burden.

With colonisation having had a devastating impact on Indigenous peoples, and mainstream solutions unable to significantly reduce the rates of NCDs experienced by Indigenous peoples, a new paradigm is urgently required.

What is required is not more state based solutions but Indigenous led solutions.

Summer May Finlay Croakey 

Welfare reform is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people impoverishing them and resulting in the consumption of unhealthy foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases

Rome (Canberra) continues to fiddle while Black Australia burns. Professor Jon Altman weighs in on the ongoing disasters of government policy that have a tight grip on remote living Indigenous people.

In the last month I participated in two workshops. I used what I observed on my latest visit to Arnhem Land and what people were telling me to inform what I presented at the workshops.

The first workshop explored issues around excessive consumption by industrialised societies globally and how this is harming human health and destroying the planet. Workshop participants asked how such ‘consumptogenic’ systems might be regulated for the global good? My job was to provide a case study from my research on consumption by Indigenous people in remote Australia.

The second workshop looked at welfare reform in the last decade in remote Indigenous Australia. In this workshop I looked at how welfare reform by the Australian state after the NT Intervention was creatively destroying the economy and lifeways of groups in Arnhem Land who are looking to live on their lands and off its natural resources.

Here I want to share some of what I said.

BROADLY speaking Indigenous policy in remote Australia is looking to do two things.

The first is to Close the Gaps so that Indigenous Australians can one future day have the same socio-economic status as other Australians. In remote Australia this goal is linked to the project to ‘Develop the North’ via a combination of opening Aboriginal communities and lands to more market capitalism and extraction, purportedly for the improvement of disadvantaged Indigenous peoples and land owners.

While remote-living Indigenous people have economic and social justice rights to vastly improved wellbeing, in such scenarios of future economic equality based on market capitalism, the downsides of what I think of as ‘consumptomania’ are never mentioned.

The second aim of policy is the extreme regulation of Indigenous people and their behaviour, when deemed unacceptable. In a punitive manifestation of neoliberal governmentality, the Australian state, and its nominated agents, are looking to morally restructure Indigenous people to transform them into model citizens: hard-working, individualistic, highly educated, nationally mobile at least in pursuit of work (not alcohol), and materially acquisitive.

This paternalistic project of improvement makes no concessions whatsoever to cultural difference, colonial history of neglect, connection to country, discrimination, and so on.

In the last decade new race-based instruments have been devised to regulate Indigenous people including their forms of expenditure (via income management), forms of working via the Community Development Programme (CDP) and their places of habitation, where they might access basic citizenship services.

All these measures have implications for consumption of market commodities, including food from shops, and of customary non-market goods, including food from the bush.

We have all heard the bad news, year after year, report after report, that the government-imposed project of improvement, called ‘Closing the Gap’ and introduced by Kevin Rudd in 2008, is failing.

Using the government’s own statistics, after 10 years only one target, year 12 attainment, might be on track. I say ‘might’ because ‘attainment’ is open to multiple interpretations: is attainment just about attendance or about gaining useful life skills?

What national and average Closing the Gap figures do not tell us is just how badly the estimated 170,000 Indigenous people in remote and very remote Australia are faring. This region where I focus my work covers 86 per cent of the Australian continent.

What we are seeing in this massive part of Australia according to the latest census are the very lowest employment/population ratios of about 30 per cent for Indigenous adults (against 80% for non-Indigenous adults) and the deepest poverty, more than 50 per cent of people in Indigenous households currently live below the poverty line.

This is also paradoxically where Indigenous people have most land and native title rights, a recent estimate suggests that 43 per cent of the continent has some form of indigenous title; and is dotted with maybe 1000 small Indigenous communities with a total population of 100,000 at most.

Native title rights and interests give people an unusual and generally unregulated right to use natural resources for domestic consumption.

This form of consumption might include hunting kangaroos or feral animals like the estimated 100,000 wild buffalo in Arnhem Land.

Such hunting is good for health because the meat is lean and fresh; it is also good for the environment because buffalo eat about 30kg of vegetation a day and are environmentally destructive; and it is good for global cooling because each buffalo emits methane with a carbon equivalent value of about two tonnes per annum.

The legal challenge of gaining native title rights and interests is that claimants must demonstrate continuity of customs and traditions and connection to their claimed country. But in remote Australia, culture and tradition have been identified as a key element of the problem that is exacerbating social dysfunction. (That is unless tradition appears as fine art ‘high culture’ which is imagined to be unrelated to the everyday culture and is a favourite item for consumption by metropolitan elites.)

Hence the project of behavioural modification to eradicate Indigenous cultures that exhibit problematic characteristics, like sharing and a focus on kinship and reciprocity, to be replaced by western culture with its high consumption, individualistic and materially acquisitive characteristics.

Connection to country, at least if it involves living on it, is also deemed highly problematic by the Australian state if one wants to produce western educated, home-owning, properly disciplined neoliberal subjects — terra nulliusis now to be replaced by terra vacua, empty land.

Such empty land would be ripe for resource extraction and capitalist accumulation by dispossession Despite all the talk of mining on Aboriginal land, there are currently very few operating mines on the Indigenous estate. This is imagined as one means to Develop the North, but recent history suggests that the long-term benefits to Aboriginal land owners from such development will be limited.

MUCH of what I describe above in general terms resonates with what I have observed in Arnhem Land where I have visited regularly since the Intervention; and what I hear from Aboriginal people and colleagues working elsewhere in remote Indigenous Australia.

From 2007 to 2012 all communities in Arnhem Land were prescribed under NT Intervention laws. Since 2012, under Stronger Futures laws legislated in force until 2022, the Aboriginal population has continued to be subject to a new hyper-regulatory regime: income management, government-licenced stores, modern slavery-like compulsory work for welfare, enhanced policing, unimaginable levels of electronic and police surveillance, school attendance programs and so on.

The limited availability of mainstream work in this region as elsewhere means that most adults of working age receive their income from the new Community Development Program introduced in 2015. Weekly income is limited to Newstart ($260) for which one must meet a work requirement of five hours a day, five days a week if aged 18-49 years and able-bodied.

Of this paltry income, 50 per cent is quarantined for spending at stores where prices are invariably high, owing to remoteness.

The main aim of such paternalism is to reduce expenditure on tobacco and alcohol which cannot be purchased with the BasicsCard.

Shop managers that I have interviewed tell me that despite steep tax-related price rises (a pack of Winfield blue costs nearly $30) tobacco demand is inelastic and sales have not declined.

Since the year 2000, Noel Pearson has popularised his metaphor ‘welfare poison’. Pearson is referring figuratively to what he sees as the negative impacts of long-term welfare dependence. In Arnhem Land welfare is literally a form of poison because in the name of ‘food security’ people are forced to purchase foods they can afford with low nutritional value from ‘licenced’ stores.

However, paternalistic licencing to allow stores to operate the government-imposed BasicsCard is not undertaken equitably by officials from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

So one sees large, long-standing, community-owned and operated and mainly Indigenous staffed stores being rigorously regulated, managers argue over-regulated. Such stores are highly visible, as are their accounts.

But small private-sector operators (staffed mainly by temporary visa holders and backpackers) that have been established as the regional economy has been prised open to the free market appear under-regulated, even though they are also ‘licenced’ to operate the BasicsCard.

These private sector operators compete very effectively with community-owned enterprises because they only have a focus on commerce: all the profits they make and most of the wages they pay non-local staff leave the region.

Owing to deep poverty, many people can only purchase relatively cheap and unhealthy takeaway foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases, like acute heart and kidney disorders, followed by lung cancer from smoking.

With income management Aboriginal people are being coerced to shop at stores according to the government’s rhetoric for their ‘food security’. Before the introduction of this regime many more people were exercising their ‘food sovereignty’ right to harvest far healthier foods from the bush.

This dramatic transformation has occurred as an unusual form of regional economy that involved a high level of customary activity has been effectively destroyed by the dominant government view that only prioritises engagement in market capitalism — that is largely absent in this region.

On one hand, we now see the most able-bodied hunters required to work for the dole every week day with their energies directed from what they do best.

On the other hand, the greatly enhanced police presence is resulting simultaneously in people being deprived of their basic equipment for hunting — guns and trucks — regularly impounded because they are unregistered or their users unlicenced.

People are being increasingly isolated from their ancestral lands and their hunting grounds.

Excessive policing, growing poverty, dependency and anomie are seeing criminality escalate with expensive fines for minor misdemeanours further impoverishing people and reducing their ability to purchase either more expensive healthy foods or the means to acquire bush foods.

A virtuous production cycle that until the Intervention saw much ‘bush food consumption’ has been disastrously reversed. Today, we see a vicious cycle where people regularly report hunger while living in rich Australia; people’s health status is declining.

Welfare reform and Indigeneity is indeed a toxic mix, poison, in remote regions like Arnhem Land.

I WANT to end with some more general conclusions.

On the regulation of Indigenous expenditure, we see a perverse policy intervention: the Australian government is committing what are sometimes referred to as Type 1 and Type 2 errors.

The former sees the government looking to regulate Indigenous consumption using the expensive instrument of income management that has cost over $1.2 billion to date, despite no evidence that it makes a difference.

The latter sees an absence of the proper regulation of supply in licences stores evident when stores with names like ‘The Good Food Kitchen’ sell cheap unhealthy take-aways.

In my view the racially-targeted and crude attempts to regulate Indigenous expenditure are unacceptable on social justice grounds.

Two principles as articulated by Guy Standing stand out.

‘The security difference principle’ suggests that a policy is only socially just if it improves the [food]security of the most insecure in society. Income management and work for the dole do not do this.

And ‘the paternalism test’ suggests that a policy like income management would only be socially just if it does not impose controls on some groups that are not imposed on the most-free groups in society.

Paternalistic governmentality in remote Australia is imposing tight regulatory frameworks on some people, even though the justifying ideology suggests that markets should be free and unregulated.

Sociologist Loic Wacquant in  Punishing the Poor shows how the carceral state in the USA punishes the poor with criminalisation and imprisonment; the poor there happen to be mainly black.

In Australia, punitive neoliberalism punishes those remote living Aboriginal people who happen to be poor and dependent on the state.

Once again there is a perversity in policy implementation.

Hence in Arnhem Land, people maintain strong vestiges of a hunter-gatherer subjectivity that when combined with deep poverty makes them avid consumers of western commodities that are bad for health (like tobacco that is expensive and fatty, sugary takeaway food that is relatively cheap).

At the same time commodities that might be useful to improve health, like access to guns and trucks essential for modern hunting, are rendered unavailable by a combination of poverty and excessive policing.

Australian democracy that is founded on notions of liberalism needs to be held to account for such travesties.

Long ago in 1859, John Stuart Mill, the doyen of liberals, wrote in  On Liberty: “…despotism is a legitimate form of government in dealing with barbarians, providing the end be their improvement and the means justified by actually effecting that end”.

In illiberal Australia today, authoritarian controls over remote living Indigenous people and their behaviour are again viewed as legitimate by the powerful now neoliberal state, even though there is growing evidence from remote Australia that things are getting worse.

I want to end with some suggested antidotes to the toxic mix that has resulted from welfare reform that is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people and impoverishing them.

First, in my view despotism for some is never legitimate, so people should be treated equally irrespective of their ethnicity or structural circumstances.

Second, the Community Development Programme is a coercive disaster that is far more effective at breaching and penalising the jobless for not complying with excessive requirements than in creating jobs. CDP is further impoverishing people and should be replaced, especially in places where there are no jobs, with unconditional basic income support.

Third, people need to be empowered to find their own solutions to the complex challenges of appropriate development that accord with their aspirations, norms, values, and lifeways. Devolutionary principles of self-government and community control, not big government and centralised control, are needed.

Fourth, the native title of remote living people should be protected to ensure that they benefit from all their rights and interests. There is no point in legally allocating property rights in natural resources valuable for self-provisioning if people are effectively excluded from access to their ancestral lands and the enjoyment of these resources.

Finally, governments should support what has worked in the past to improve people’s diverse culturally-informed views about wellbeing and sense of worth.

While such an approach might not close some imposed ‘closing the gap’ targets, like employment as measured by standard western metrics, it will likely improve other important goals like reducing child mortality and enhancing life expectancy and overall quality of life.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Cashless Debit Card rollout : 5 specific concerns of Twiggy Forrest’s #Mindaroo Foundation Report : finds the Cashless Debit Card shows effects on the communities ranging from negligible to negative

 ” The problem with policy making in this area is that the government fails to accept that the data on the CDC shows effects on the communities ranging from negligible to negative.

We know that the CDC has not worked, and yet there is still a push for the trials to be expanded and extended. The effect of this report is to reinforce the beliefs that the so-called ‘solution’ continues to primarily involve tinkering with the details of technocratic policies. This runs the risk of further marginalising precisely those who are in most need of an effective and comprehensive federal safety net.”

Dr Shelley Bielefeld and Professor Eva Cox : See in full Part 1 below 

Originally published HERE 

 ” Family violence rates rise in Kimberley towns with cashless welfare

Introduction of cashless welfare card coincides with significant increase in domestic violence callouts and assaults, police data shows “

From the Guardian see other report CAEPR_Topical_Issue_2_2017_0

” 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 

THE CASHLESS DEBIT CARD: FLAWED BEYOND TECHNOLOGICAL REDEMPTION

The Cashless Debit Card (CDC) has been in operation in the trial sites of Ceduna, South Australia, and the East Kimberley, Western Australia in since March and April of 2016 (respectively).

Progressive rollout of the CDC in the Kalgoorlie/Goldfields region in Western Australia has been in motion since the 26th of March, 2018.

If the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018 recently presented to Parliament passes, then trials will be expanded to the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region in Queensland as well.

The CDC is a form of income management that quarantines 80% of social security payments received by working-age people (15-64 years) in trial sites, preventing cash withdrawals (the remaining 20% goes to the participant’s usual bank account).

The aim of the CDC is to restrict purchases of alcohol, illicit drugs, and gambling products. The CDC is compulsory for all income support recipients in Ceduna, the East Kimberley, and the Goldfields who receive the Disability Support Pension, parenting payments, Carer’s payment, Youth Allowance, and Newstart Allowance.

For those on the aged pension or veteran’s payment, or for those earning a wage, there is an option to voluntarily engage with the scheme. In the proposed rollout to the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region, the program will apply to people 35 and under who are in receipt of Newstart, Youth Allowance (Job Seeker), and parenting payments.

The Federal Government’s announcement of intent to expand the CDC to the new sites at Goldfields/Kalgoorlie and Bundaberg and Hervey Bay received immediate approval from the Minderoo Foundation, whose founder Andrew Forrest has been a staunch supporter of the CDC, having been one of the earliest and most vocal proponents of cashless welfare.

In late 2017, the Minderoo Foundation presented a report to the Minister for Human Services– the Hon Alan Tudge MP- containing 11 recommendations to facilitate the further expansion of the CDC program of income management[1].

The first two sites were also seen as primarily covering First Nation recipients of income support payments, but this focus appears to be broadening. This shift must be highlighted, as it suggests that the model will be extended to a wider range of welfare recipients. The explanatory memorandum attached to the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018 states in its section on human rights:

Noting the indirect impact the Cashless Debit Card currently has on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in identifying the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay area as a fourth location, consideration was given to expanding to an urban population, with a significantly lower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

It is estimated that 14 per cent of participants in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay area will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. With the addition of the Goldfields areas, Western Australia, and the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay area, the proportion of Indigenous participants across the four sites will be approximately 33 per cent.

What’s in the Minderoo Foundation report?

The Cashless Debit Card Technology Report (November 20th, 2017) was produced by the Minderoo Foundation in collaboration with ALDI, Australia Post, Australian Payments Network, Coles, Commonwealth Bank, Department of Social Services (the report notes that the Department acted as observers), eftpos Australia Limited, Heritage Bank, iA6, Indue, Ingenico, PayPal, PC EFTPOS, Smartpay, Systemware, The Initiatives Group, Visa and Woolworths. Inputs were also received from the National Australia Bank and ANZ Bank.

The aim of the report is to highlight the changes required to facilitate smoother functioning and further expansion of CDC trials.

It therefore engages with some of the challenges raised in the ORIMA evaluation of the East Kimberley and Ceduna trial sites. The report asserts that the issues with the CDC noted till date are largely technical, and open to amelioration via upgrades to the technological side of income management.

The author(s) argue that the ORIMA reports ‘found mixed results that underscored technological limitations within the current CDC model’ (p. 4). 11 recommendations are made under the following three headings: improving social outcomes, improving participant and merchant experience, and creating a scalable solution.

The angle taken by the Minderoo Foundation and workshop collaborators collapses the diversity of negative responses to the CDC- largely articulated in terms of increased financial hardship with flow-on social effects– into a list of simplified indicators that merely address the technical platform for service provision. Despite this, the report advocates for the continuation of the CDC, encouraging technological upgrades to facilitate its expansion to new sites.

We outline the following specific concerns:

1.Lack of attention to human rights.

One of the most confronting suggestions in the Technology Report is in Recommendation 4, which suggests that the CDC should incorporate an opt-in income smoothing feature.

The report states that welfare funds could be disbursed in small amounts- with the example amounts being $20-$50- into the core transaction account on a daily/bi-daily basis. While it is proposed as a voluntary measure, it is nonetheless concerning.

Income support recipients who opt-in would be effectively drip-fed payments in order to curb early over-spends and payday lending (short-term, high interest loans). The report suggests that this might be applied in conjunction with basic financial education, but the emphasis is clearly on behavioural income management over financial literacy.

Also included in the report are assumptions about the ability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander income support recipients to manage their own money. Recommendation 2 refers to the need to impose technical solutions to dissuade humbugging and card-swapping. The report’s author(s) appear to problematize notions of community ownership by claiming that this leads to inappropriate shared use of the card. The solution offered is to create an opt-in card with CDC-equivalent restrictions for non-welfare recipients.

Problematizing community relationships and strategies to relieve hardship is particularly concerning given disinvestment in wrap-around support services- including remote Aboriginal housing– that may otherwise provide social security to Indigenous income support recipients. The suggestion that the CDC might stamp out humbugging is also ultimately unfounded, as it occurs for a variety of items other than cash, e.g. foodstuffs. Overall, this serves to underscore the racialised tone permeating the CDC discourse that specifically refers to the management of Indigenous income support recipients.

The report also fails to mention that despite the intention to target ‘vulnerable’ individuals and families for income management, eligibility is determined by catchment-area. This means that programs are rolled out by postcode rather than by participant. This is an issue, because while the purported aim of the CDC is to control the spending of individuals who engage in socially undesirable behaviour in order to curb this behaviour, the targeting is actually remarkably non-specific. As a result, many people who have never struggled with alcohol and/or other drug use or gambling are subject to the same restrictions on how they use their income support payments- something which has received push-back from many community members.

Additionally, the compulsory nature of enrolment means participants have to go through gruelling verification processes to opt out. Opting out of the CDC is technically available on the grounds of risk to mental, physical or emotional wellbeing, and involves an appeal to the Department of Social Services, an assessment by a Centrelink social worker, and then further review by the Department. This process is by no means transparent, and worryingly, the Secretary is not required to consider the impacts of the CDC on a person’s wellbeing prior to them becoming a trial participant. Anecdotal evidence has indicated that non-Indigenous participants have found it less challenging to opt-out of the trial than Indigenous participants.

The language of choice in the Technology Report is therefore dangerously misleading, as it does not reflect the reality experienced by CDC participants.

2.Data security issues and concerning technological aspirations

The report’s suggestion that Indue should move to introducing a tap-and-go payment system is concerning, as this presents the opportunity for easy misappropriation of cardholder funds if cards are lost or stolen. However, the report goes on to suggest that even the tap-and-go system should require PIN identification, rendering the supposed gains in accessibility redundant.

The report also indicates that expansion may involve leveraging the use of point-of-sale (POS) systems at major retailers to look at CDC participant spending patterns. Recommendation 3 encourages government to expand quantitative metrics using POS technology to capture details about how CDC participants spend their money on fresh food, alcohol and gambling. Supermarket giants Coles, ALDI and Woolworths are named in the report under this recommendation. As mentioned previously, all three are members of Minderoo’s technology working group, and publicly expressed their support of the CDC in January. This represents a concerning trend in technocratic aspirations to pry into the private financial lives of citizens.

3. Growing profits of the Income Management industry while doing harm to the poor.

 The Technology Report makes recommendations for increasing the scale of the CDC trials with the use of multiple card issuers rather than a single issuer (Indue).

This means that Indue could make its infrastructure available to third parties, which can then offer a CDC package of their own to extend income management under their own provider name. While the report identifies this as a way to reduce stigma felt by CDC participants, make the CDC more user-friendly by leveraging existing banking industry support networks, and lead to greater product innovation through competition, this appears to open the option for an increased number of providers to capitalise off income management- Indue Limited is currently on a $21.3m contract with the Department of Social Services.

Interested third parties include the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Heritage Bank, who are members of the Minderoo Foundation’s technology working group. The report also expresses thanks for inputs from NAB and the ANZ Banking Group. The authors of the report suggest that a multi-issuer trial might be attempted in the Hinkler and Goldfields regions in this year’s rollout.

The report heavily advocates government subsidies for businesses who incur extra expenses as a result of CDC implementation, but the authors appear to show no similar concern for social security recipients who have actually incurred additional costs to good and services through their forced use of the CDC.

4.Selective use of data to support claims of success.

There are two key issues with the data being used to bolster the recommendations in the Technology Report- firstly, the fact that the collection of the data itself is methodologically and analytically flawed, and secondly, the nature of the data collection itself during formal evaluations of the CDC.

Janet Hunt of the Australian National University has conducted an analysis of the trial evaluation carried out by ORIMA Research on behalf of the government in 2017. Hunt highlights selective presentation of results by ORIMA, including a lack of clarity around the factors impacting reduced alcohol use in Ceduna and the East Kimberley, the telling facts that the majority of participants identified that the CDC made no positive change in their lives and that almost half of participants stated that the CDC had actually made their lives worse.

However, reference to these mixed results in the evaluation data only occurs in the Technology Report during a discussion of the technological ‘limitations’ within the current CDC model, where the issue is framed as one of inadequate scope for technological interference in financial transactions of income support recipients.

Based on a comparison between the BasicsCard and the CDC the latter is presented as a superior model, the report also makes the troubling suggestion that the government should undertake a study on the feasibility of moving BasicsCard holders onto the CDC infrastructure.

The report frames the CDC as an improvement on the BasicsCard due to enhanced ‘consumer protections’ such as having a more secure chip (as compared to magnetic stripe) and being more ‘user friendly’ with respect to its ‘open-loop’ model for purchase restrictions. The ‘open-loop’ model refers to the user’s ability to use the CDC ‘at any Visa Debit accepting store that is not categorised as a supplier of excluded goods and services’- where stores do not have to have entered into a contract with the Department.

This is in contrast to the BasicsCard ‘closed-loop’ model, where the card can only be used at approved stores who have entered into a contract with the Department, and only to buy approved goods and services. However, it is apparent that this is really just fussing over the details of how to most effectively manage the finances of income support recipients.

5.Little attention to wrap-around services.

While we acknowledge that the purpose of the report is primarily to discuss the technology of the CDC, there is typical lack of attention given to the importance of wrap-around services. Wrap-around services have been identified by the Australian Council of Social Service as a key component in addressing disadvantage in communities, as income limiting alone cannot ‘treat’ addiction- people need integrated and long-term support.

While this is even acknowledged briefly in the report itself, the report nonetheless recommends a list of 11 technocratic solutions to issues of social concern without presenting an understanding of how these changes might articulate with community-sector supports such as alcohol and other drug rehabilitation services, family violence services, financial counselling services, and so on. This disconnect is particularly salient when considering that the latest federal budget indicates that there will be further spending cuts to Australians receiving income support payments- particularly people who are unemployed, people with a disability, low-income families and students.

The problem with policy making in this area is that the government fails to accept that the data on the CDC shows effects on the communities ranging from negligible to negative.

We know that the CDC has not worked, and yet there is still a push for the trials to be expanded and extended. The effect of this report is to reinforce the beliefs that the so-called ‘solution’ continues to primarily involve tinkering with the details of technocratic policies. This runs the risk of further marginalising precisely those who are in most need of an effective and comprehensive federal safety net.

Want to know more? Email the team: contactaimnetwork@gmail.com

[1] The report itself was only posted on the Minderoo Foundation’s CDC site on the 19th of May 2018.

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 Aboriginal Health and #Racism : #UN #HRC36 told Australia must abandon racially discriminatory remote work for the dole program

Thank you Mr President,

Australia is denying access to basic rights to equality, income and work for people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through a racially discriminatory social security policy.

Australia should work with Aboriginal organisations and leaders to replace this discriminatory Program with an Aboriginal-led model that treats people with respect, protects their human rights and provides opportunities for economic and community development “

36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council 20 September see in full part 2 below

The program discriminates on the basis of race, with around 83 per cent of people in the program being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This is a racially discriminatory program that was imposed on remote communities by the Government and it’s having devastating consequences in those communities,”

John Paterson, a CEO of the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT, told the Council that the Government’s program requires people looking for work in remote communities to work up to 760 hours more per year for the same basic payment as people in non-Indigenous majority urban areas.

Picture above Remote work-for-the-dole scheme ‘devastating Indigenous communities’

The Australian Government is denying access to basic rights to equality, work and income for people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through its racially discriminatory remote work for the dole program.

In a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council overnight, the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT and Human Rights Law Centre urged the Council to abandon its racially discriminatory ‘Community Development Program’ and replace it with an Aboriginal-led model.

Adrianne Walters, a Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said that the program is also denying basic work rights to many people in remote communities.

“Some people are required to do work that they should be employed to do. Instead, they receive a basic social security payment that is nearly half of the minimum wage in Australia. People should be paid an award wage and afforded workplace rights and protections to do that work.” said Ms Walters.

The statement to the Council calls for the Federal Government to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on a model that treats people with respect, protects their human rights and provides opportunities for economic and community development.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities want to take up the reins and drive job creation and community development. Communities need a program that sees people employed on decent pay and conditions, to work on projects the community needs. It’s time for Government to work with us,” said Mr Paterson.

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT has developed an alternative model for fair work and strong communities, called the Remote Development and Employment Scheme, which was launched in Canberra two weeks ago with broad community support.

“The new Scheme will see new opportunities for jobs and community development and get rid of pointless administration. Critically, the Scheme provides incentives to encourage people into work, training and other activities, rather than punishing people already struggling to make ends meet,” said Mr Paterson.

The Human Rights Law Centre has endorsed the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT’s proposed model.

“Aboriginal organisations have brought a detailed policy solution to the Government’s front door. The Scheme would create jobs and strengthen communities, rather than strangling opportunities as the Government’s program is doing,” said Ms Walters.

Part 2 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Items 3 and 5

Human Rights Law Centre statement, in association with Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory, Australia

Thank you Mr President,

Australia is denying access to basic rights to equality, income and work for people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through a racially discriminatory social security policy.

The Council has received the report of the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous peoples’ rights following her mission to Australia in 2017. This statement addresses one area of concern in the Special Rapporteur’s report.

The Australian Government’s remote ‘Community Development Program’ requires people looking for work in remote communities to work up to 760 more hours per year for the same basic social security payment as people in non-Indigenous majority urban areas.

The program discriminates on the basis of race, with around 83 per cent of people covered by the program being Indigenous.

High rates of financial penalty are leaving families without money for the basic necessities for survival.

In addition, the program denies basic work rights. People are required to do work activities that they should be employed, paid an award wage and afforded workplace rights to do. Instead, they receive a basic social security payment that is nearly half of the minimum wage in Australia.

The program undermines self-determination and was imposed on Aboriginal communities with very little consultation.

Australia should work with Aboriginal organisations and leaders to replace this discriminatory Program with an Aboriginal-led model that treats people with respect, protects their human rights and provides opportunities for economic and community development.

Mr President,

Australia is a candidate for a seat on the Human Rights Council for 2018. We call on the Council and its members to urge Australia to respect rights to self-determination and non-discrimination, and to abandon its racially discriminatory remote social security program and replace it with an Aboriginal-led model.

Part 3 Fair work and strong communities

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT Proposal for a Remote Development and Employment Scheme

NACCHO is one of the many organisations that has endorsed this scheme

See full Story here

Download the brochure and full list of organisations endorsing

RDES-Summary_online

All Australians expect to be treated with respect and to receive a fair wage for work. But the Australian Government is denying these basic rights to people in remote communities through its remote work for the Dole program – the “Community Development Programme”.

Around 84 per cent of those subject to this program are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Most people in remote communities have to do more work than people in non-remote non Indigenous majority areas for the same basic social security payment.

In some cases, up to 760 hours more per year.

There is less flexibility and people are paid far below the national minimum wage.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also being penalised more because of the onerous compliance conditions.

In many cases, people are receiving a basic social security payment for work they should be employed to do.

The Government’s program is strangling genuine job opportunities in remote communities.

The Government’s remote Work for the Dole program is racially discriminatory and must be abandoned. Better outcomes will be achieved if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are given the opportunity to determine their own priorities and gain greater control over their own lives.

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

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