Turnbull gov't to roll out Cashless Debit Card in WA Goldfields

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Australian dollar notes and coins can be seen in a cash register at a store in Sydney, Australia, February 11, 2016.
Australian dollar notes and coins can be seen in a cash register at a store in Sydney, Australia, February 11, 2016. Reuters/David Gray

Cashless Debit Card in the WA Goldfields will soon roll out after positive findings of an independent final evaluation of the card was released last week. The Turnbull government is making the move following support from community leaders in the region.

In addition to the East Kimberley and Ceduna, the Goldfields will be the third region, and the first in the expansion of the card. It will be introduced with reforms to back up local services and deliver improved health and social outcomes.

The Cashless Debit Card is a world-first in making payments. The final independent evaluation of the trials has found that the card showed considerable positive impact in the communities in which it operated.

Some of these impacts include reduction of alcohol and drug use and gambling. More than 270 consultations have been conducted in the Goldfields region since May, according to a media release posted at mhs.gov.au.

Cashless Debit Card

The card is expected to roll out in the Goldfields from next year. Up to 3,400 people  working age income support recipients will get it.

Eighty percent of total welfare payments will be placed onto a recipient’s Cashless Debit Card. Twenty percent will continue to go into their savings account. There will be additional resources provided to transition people onto the card, which include budget and financial planning support.

The early discussions about the Cashless Debit Card in the Goldfields started last year. Several stakeholders have shown interest in addressing significant harm caused by welfare-fuelled alcohol abuse in the region, with some noting that kids feel safer on the streets than in their own homes.

Based on Western Australian police data, domestic and non-domestic assault rate in the region is more than twice the state average. Between 2007 and 2011, alcohol-related hospitalisations and death rate in the Goldfields is reportedly 25 percent higher than the state average.

Comprehensive drug and alcohol services are already in place in the region. It includes more than 50 federally funded services.

The WA government is also funding a new residential rehabilitation centre. It will open in Kalgoorlie this month.

The government will provide funding for new service coordinator positions to ensure people can navigate and access the services if they need to. It will assists with more than $1 million funding over three years to ensure that Goldfields children and families have well-targeted, coordinated, effective services.

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