Labor’s announcement that the Cashless Debit Card will be terminated is a huge disappointment for the Ceduna community where trial has shown outstanding benefits and enjoyed broad community support, Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said.
“I am bitterly disappointed with Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth’s announcement that the card is to be abandoned,” he said.
“The trials in Ceduna and East Kimberley introduced in 2016 and then extended to Kalgoorlie and Bundaberg, have shown strong success.”
“I have no doubt the Cashless Debit Card has made a significant difference and I have spoken to hundreds of individuals, including many on the card, who have attested to its value.
“There have been occasions where a flush of cash not allocated through the card has reached recipients leading to an outbreak of drunken, violent and anti-social behaviour. The correlation is too direct to dismiss.
“The card was introduced in the aftermath of 2011 SA Coroner’s report into the deaths of six aboriginals in and around the Ceduna township over a five year period who had histories of alcohol abuse. While there were a number of consequent actions, there is no doubt the CDC has been a major contributor in interrupting the cycle of drug, alcohol abuse and chronic gambling with its related familiy violence and poverty.
“Many leaders including those in the Indigenous community in Ceduna will be horrified if Labor presses ahead with its plan.
“I understand the new Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has been to Ceduna on three occasions and has shown no interest with meeting with either the Indigenous Leaders Group or the Ceduna Council, instead choosing to meet only with those who have expressed dissatisfaction with the CDC.
“The newly installed Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth, who has the responsibility for winding up the trial has never visited Ceduna. I have contacted her expressing my disappointment and concern for the future.
“To her credit she has committed to a two day visit to Ceduna before Parliament resumes and I urge her to keep her options open, consult with leaders in the community and take heed of their advice.”
Mr Ramsey said the card was introduced to tackle the damage caused when families and lives are torn apart by alcohol, gambling and violence.
“Surely addressing these heartbreaking issues in communities is something we should be committing to,” he said. “The culture of excessive alcohol consumption scars families and children and the new Federal Government should be prepared for the public reaction should we see an upswing of destructive behaviours in the event the CDC is abolished.
“I believe the real benefits of the card may not be seen for another generation when the damage of alcohol foetal syndrome, violence and neglect has been visibly reduced and children can grow and reach their potential.”
Mr Ramsey said former Ceduna Mayor Allan Suter remained a great supporter of the card having seen first-hand the transformation it brought to the town.
“I have repeatedly spoken in the Parliament about the courage shown by the Indigenous Leaders Group, the council and Mr Suter as we worked together to design the card’s parameters and introduce it to recipients of working age welfare in the Ceduna community,” he said.
“The whole community has benefited from the improvement in the lives of children and mothers because welfare benefits were not being poured into pokie machines or used to buy drugs or alcohol.
“To lose all these gains now would be a great disappointment and endanger lives.”
Leonie Lloyd-Smith 0417 827523
Monday June 6, 2022