Cashless debit card trials are being extended

April 04, 2019

Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has welcomed the Federal Government's pledge to extend cashless debit card trials around the country.

The ABC reports, the card, which is designed to curb anti-social behaviour and drug and alcohol abuse by quarantining welfare payments, was first trialled in 2016.

Western Australia's sprawling Goldfields is one of the largest trial sites with about 3,600 card holders and in Laverton, a town of 400 in the north of the region, anecdotal evidence among locals has pointed to a positive impact on the community.

"There's not so much access to hard cash, so they've been able to spend more money on clothes, food into the household," chief executive of the Pakaanu Aboriginal Corporation, Marty Sealander, said.

"Individuals have had to think about their budgeting and what they spend their money on."

A recent University of Adelaide report, commissioned by the Department of Social Services, interviewed 66 Goldfields 'stakeholders' and 64 cardholders in the early stages of the trial.

It found "levels of substance misuse were reported by many respondents to have reduced, and alcohol-related, anti-social behaviour and crime had also decreased".

In Canberra, the Government has long championed the expansion of the cashless welfare card trials, with a fifth proposed for Tennant Creek in the NT.

Both the Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher and Liberal backbencher Rick Wilson, whose electorate includes the Goldfields, have said the trials are succeeding.

"In general, there appears to be a very positive effect on the prevalence and severity of crime," Mr Wilson told the ABC.

The first three trials were due to expire on June 30; however, legislation passed the Senate last night to extend the trials for another year.

As far back as February 2017, Senator Bernardi voiced his support for the scheme.

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