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Experts call attempt to expand Cashless Debit Card “ideological or illogical”

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 1 Apr 2019

The Greens have today tabled a dissenting report to the Senate committee inquiry scrutinising legislation that seeks to extend the Cashless Debit Card in the trial sites of Ceduna, East Kimberley and the Goldfields until 2020.

"This is about punishing people on income support, it's not about reducing disadvantage or tackling issues of addiction, because if the Government was serious about that they would be funding programs that are actually proven to work, like early intervention programs, addiction and mental health services, effective employment supports and increasing Newstart,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Family and Community Services said.

“That’s the evidence we heard during the committee process, but the Government just refuses to listen.

"The ORIMA "evaluations" have been thoroughly discredited by academics and researchers and were described during the Senate inquiry by academics as “extremely misleading".

“One academic said that to ask for an extension without supporting evidence of its benefit can only be ideological or illogical. They also said it was an “embarrassment” that the Government still referred to the ORIMA reports.

"Academics and researchers are now at a loss as to how one would even begin to undertake a proper evaluation of the so- called trial sites because the approach has been so haphazard, particularly given that no proper baseline data has been collected at any of the trial sites.

“Let's be clear, these are no longer trials, they've been going for far too long. Both academics and people in the trial site communities are cynical that this is still or has ever been a “trial”.

"The Government is putting people through a hellish social experiment that has no end in sight.  

“For it to have been a trial it would have to be rigorously and independently evaluated with expert field researchers embedded in the community from the beginning doing thorough analysis. There would have been comparison sites. This has not occurred.

“What a waste of public money – this money could have been spent on targeted services for regional and remote communities.

“Compulsory Income Management in all its various forms should be abandoned and the resources invested in approaches that are therapeutic, individualised and are genuinely supported by the community.

"It is unacceptable for the Government to purse this expensive, racist and punitive card when there is no credible evidence to prove that it works.”

The full report can be found here.

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Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180


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