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.
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% of welfare payments are placed onto a recipient's card, with the remaining 20% 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:
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:
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, who have 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.