Media Release: Joint media release: Cashless Debit Card trial half-way point and communities are seeing the difference

31 October 2016

The Hon Alan Tudge MP

Minister for Human Services

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Prime Minister

The Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion and the Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, will visit the Ceduna region in South Australia today to meet with community leaders and to see first-hand the impact of the Cashless Debit Card trial.

The early results are encouraging with the latest data and feedback indicating that the trial is having an impact on reducing welfare-fuelled alcohol, drug and gambling abuse. 

For example, the number of people exiting the sobering up in Ceduna centre at high risk has dropped from on average approximately 32 per month prior to the trial to just five per month following the trial’s commencement. 

The average number of alcohol related admissions to the public hospital has dropped by 21 percent in the last four months, compared with the four months immediately prior to the trial’s commencement.

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

Similar feedback has been received in the East Kimberley, with presentations at the sobering up centre down and reports of decreased public drunkenness. 

The trials have been a partnership between local leaders and State and Commonwealth governments. 

Local leaders in each of the trial sites have led the reform and co-designed every element of the trial with the government. Local leadership groups have overseen the implementation. 

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull says it is still early days but the results are very promising. 

"These communities have suffered considerably from the effects of alcohol abuse. We hope that the trial will continue to make a positive difference.”

Minister Tudge, who has overseen the design and implementation of the trial, said a significant part of the success to date was the local leadership.

"The regional leaders have worked hand-in-glove with us on this reform,” Mr Tudge said. 

"We know that it is not a panacea to all the problems but we have to reduce the devastating impact of alcohol on the community and this appears to be doing that. 

"If we get this right, it can be used a model for elsewhere.”

The cashless debit card works the same way as any other debit card and allows people to buy anything, anywhere but it will not work at the bottle shop or gambling venues, and it cannot be used to withdraw cash.

For most of the trial participants, 80 per cent of their welfare payments are placed onto the card with the remaining 20 per cent continuing to go into a regular bank account.

Download the six month progress report.