Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said he is pleased the Government has announced a 12-month extension of the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) and the Income Management program across existing sites, as part of an ongoing commitment to welfare quarantining.
“Australia’s first site for the CDC was Ceduna and the community has led the nation in demonstrating what can be achieved when everyone works together. The trial is spreading as more communities show an appetite for change and is now operating in the East Kimberly, Kalgoorlie and this year it will be implemented in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay regions,” he said.
“In Ceduna, the CDC has resulted in considerable reductions in drug use, alcohol consumption and gambling as well as reductions in crime and hospital admittances. The pilot program has been a highly successful exercise and it would be a travesty if it were terminated now. It will continue will continue to demonstrate the value of reform.
“The Cashless Debit Card trial was co-designed with community leaders in Ceduna to best meet local needs and I praise them demonstrating the courage to address the issues that were damaging people, families and the whole community.
“I am very optimistic about the program and believe it should be progressively rolled out across Australia and hope the Government will announce intentions in this area before the election. I also call on the Labor Party which has been lukewarm to show its support. The program is saving lives.”
Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher named the existing sites and said the Bundaberg-Hervey Bay trial will begin over coming months.
The extension – announced as a part of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) – will continue the measures in all sites until 30 June 2020.
An evaluation of the CDC in Ceduna and East Kimberley has found it has had a “considerable positive impact” and has been linked to a reduction in violence and harm related to alcohol consumption, illegal drug use and gambling.
“This will give further certainty to communities about the CDC program that is yielding significant positive results,” Mr Fletcher said.
Further consultation with interested communities will also be undertaken, with the option to expand to a fifth site from mid 2019.
The Income Management program will also be extended for 12 months, providing ongoing assistance to approximately 25,000 people who are currently supported by the program which operates at 17 sites in five states, and the entire Northern Territory.
The latest report into income management in Cape York was released on December 3. It is part of a growing body of evidence that these programs “contribute to a reduction in alcohol, drugs, violence and crime.”