Media Release: Senate Inquiry calls for roll-out of Cashless Welfare

7 December 2017

The Hon Alan Tudge MP

Minister for Human Services

Minister for Human Services, the Hon Alan Tudge MP, has welcomed the Senate Committee report which concluded that the Cashless Debit Card should be rolled out to more communities across Australia.

The Committee reviewed the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017 – which enables the roll-out of the card into new regions including the Goldfields and Bundaberg/Hervey Bay from early 2018.

It had just one recommendation – that the bill be passed.

The report noted that the Cashless Debit Card has received “wide-ranging support” from communities desperate to address drug and alcohol abuse, stop violence and build better lives for their children, and its further expansion should be supported.

The card has been operating in Ceduna in South Australia and the Kimberley in Western Australia since April 2016.  It was introduced with the support of local leaders to combat the excessive welfare fuelled alcohol abuse.

The report highlighted the “extensive consultation undertaken” with communities in the existing and proposed sites, and the “high level of community support”. This included over 270 different consultations in the Goldfields region alone. All five local councils in the region have called for the Cashless Debit Card to be introduced into the region.

Through the Inquiry, Shire President of Coolgardie, Mr Malcolm Cullen, said:

“In most of our towns, we have children who are not being looked after. That is one of the biggest things that I think [the card] will improve for our future.” 

During the Inquiry the committee heard from people living in the Goldfields region, who outlined the devastating impact alcohol, drugs and gambling is having on communities.

In welcoming the report, Mr Tudge said that the card was not a panacea to all the social problems, but has been shown to have a considerable positive impact. 

"The card has led to a fundamental improvement in these communities.  There are very few other initiatives that have had such impact.”

"We are now prepared to roll the card out to further locations and the Senate Committee Report endorses this. 

“Labor may have abandoned the women and children who suffer the most harm from welfare-fuelled alcohol abuse, but the Coalition has not. 

“The Senate Committee endorses the Government's approach."