Cashless Debit Card – Early Results Positive
30 September 2016
It was Wunan’s pleasure recently to host visits to the East Kimberley by former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, with whom we’ve worked closely in implementing the Cashless Debit Card trial in Kununurra and Wyndham.
Both men were keen to hear what impacts we have been seeing on the ground since the Cashless Debit Card was introduced on 26 April this year.
As part of their visits, Wunan facilitated opportunities for them to hear from local Indigenous leaders and a range of agencies working directly with those who are now part of the trial. The feedback provided was overwhelmingly positive.
According to the WA Country Health Service, which operates the hospitals in Kununurra and Wyndham, presentations at the emergency department are dramatically lower since the card was introduced.
St John Ambulance representatives told Mr Abbott and the Minister that they have noticed a significant shift since the card, with callouts for their services down 30 to 40 per cent compared to the same time last year.
Public drunkenness and the incidence of wild, out-of-control parties has significantly decreased, according to local Police, and people are now using the local park as a park, rather than a place to get drunk, fight and gamble.
A local Indigenous leader reported that he is now seeing many local Aboriginal people with their children going into the supermarket with trolleys, rather than just small baskets. They are now buying food for the week, not just living day-to-day.
These are big steps forward for our community and both Mr Abbott and Mr Tudge congratulated the local Indigenous leaders who called for this reform and have shown unwavering courage in backing it, often in the face of significant criticism by those who seek to maintain the status quo.
For our part, Indigenous leaders in the East Kimberley thank those in government and the business community who have stood with us as we have driven this difficult reform. While local leaders can call for change, the only way we will really see the types of positive outcomes we are now seeing is through a real partnership with government and business.
For us this is the beginning of a journey and we know that there’s more to be done. We ask for your encouragement and active support in helping us to make the changes required to allow our people to take advantage of the opportunities so widely enjoyed by other Australians.