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Cashless Welfare Card report piecemeal and anecdotal

“The Cashless Debit Card Trial Progress Report released by the Department of Social Services today is a piecemeal report, relying on a large amount of anecdotal evidence”, Australian Greens spokesperson on Family and Community Services Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

“This is a policy approach on the fly. The data is not even or consistent across trial sites and the so-called improvements are results from earlier this year which are not  consistently carrying through.

“Further, correlation is not causation. We’ve seen investment in services alongside the introduction of the Cashless Welfare Card. How can the Minister say that the so-called improvements are directly associated with the Cashless Welfare Card?

“The Greens have been calling for improvement to frontline Drug and Alcohol services, particularly in rural, regional and Aboriginal communities for years now, even more so since the Cashless Welfare Card was introduced.

“Let’s look at the extensive evidence that we do have from the NT Intervention. The final evaluation of the NT Intervention showed that paternalistic income management did not reduce disadvantage or address drug and alcohol abuse.

“I would like to see more transparency from Minister Tudge’s office.

“Just this month at Senate Estimates I asked the Department to table the results so far that the Minister has been quoting to media. They did not provide that evidence. When further pressed, the Department said there was ‘no report’.

“Yet today we have seen Minister Tudge release a report prepared by the Department of Social Services.

“At Estimates the Department explained that ‘trends’ that might emerge provided by State counterparts have been given to the Minister, he has also met with leaders on the ground who have given anecdotal feedback on how the card is going.

“The Government's approach pays scant regard to previous lessons on this type of intervention which, in its broadest context, has little potential for success at the same time as incurring considerable administrative cost and complexity. If Minister Tudge is serious about addressing systemic issues, let’s look at real evidence, see what works and start addressing it. The current approach is opaque.

"Present and past Governments have form on how they treat evidence. Early on in the NT intervention the Government claimed success and the final evaluation showed the intervention did not meet its objectives. More recently we see the Government making claims about income support that do not stand up because they are not comparing like with like”.

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