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Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Page: 7569

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Government) (10:27): I might just take Senator Siewert through the advice that has been given to me on the evaluation process. It is expected that the evaluation will involve comprehensive analysis of multiple datasets from both qualitative and quantitative sources. The government is working closely with the Ceduna District Council and the South Australian government and will do so with local and state governments in other trial sites to build a comprehensive community baseline dataset before the trial commences early next year. This is critical for measuring community-level change during the trial. The Premier of South Australia has specifically committed to cooperating with state based data. This data may include state and territory collections, such as alcohol related hospitalisations, emergency department presentations and child protection data; Commonwealth collections, such as Centrelink administrative data related to drug and alcohol dependence, homelessness and housing, employment, recent trauma and domestic violence; local services data, including admissions to drug and alcohol services, mental health services, homelessness services and Aboriginal health services; and local merchant data, such as demand for alcohol and gambling products.

The government is working hand in hand with the Ceduna Community Heads Working Group, which will perform an important role in monitoring the trial and providing advice to government in relation to any unintended consequences or findings whilst the trial is on foot. In terms of the evaluation framework, the cashless debit card evaluation will have three components. The first will be the community change evaluation. An independent organisation will conduct interviews with trial participants and a wide cross-section of the community to explore the impact of the trial on levels of community harm, community functioning, alcohol consumption and rates of gambling, among other key issues relating to community safety. Second is the data monitoring project, where the government, in consultation with local and state governments, will collect data to monitor the effect of the trial in making communities safer on alcohol consumption and its wider negative effects in the community. A specialist with expertise in statistical methods will analyse the changes in these datasets during the trial. Thirdly, specialised product analysis. Recognising the debit card is a new innovation the government will engage a specialist to monitor and analyse the effectiveness of the card during the trial, and the evaluation will be made public.