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Jury still out on East Kimberley cashless welfare cards

Date posted: 31 August 2016

There are conflicting reports about the effectiveness of cashless welfare cards in the East Kimberley, with some reporting a decline in binge drinking and others claiming there has been dirty dealing and rorting going on.

The Federal Government issued the bank-cards to around 1,200 welfare recipients in Kununurra and Wyndham, Western Australia (WA) about four months ago. The head of Kununurra police station, Senior Sergeant Steve Principle, said although it was early days there had been some positive signs. He noted there had been less public drunkeness, a reduction in ambulance call outs, and anecdotal evidence of more food being purchased from the store.

Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, was also happy with the progress of the trial so far, but many residents remained unhappy about the scheme, arguing that it was patronising and unfairly targeted Aboriginal people.

Senior Miriuwung and Gajerrong man, Ted Carlton, said that the process wasn't adopted the proper way with the mob and should have used a community development approach. He also said that people had quickly found ways to get around the system, by getting other people to pay for shopping on their cashless card, and refunding the restricted person the cash.

Some card users were also confused about how it worked, and found it difficult to keep track of the balance on the cards.

Mr Tudge said the future of the cashless welfare card depended on the results of the trial but that he expected real change would take a lot longer than the 12 months set aside for the trial.

Source: ABC News

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Last updated: 29 August 2016
 
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Australia's National Research Centre on AOD Workforce Development National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre National Drug Research Institute