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Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Page: 7599

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) (12:22): Thanks, Senator, for the question. The trial site in Ceduna has been chosen because of the very high indicators of hospitalisation and other abuses—and I am just flicking through my notes to give you some of the statistics, specifically, in relation to Ceduna.

In 2013-14, presentations to the hospital emergency department due to alcohol or drug use exceeded 500—and that is more than one presentation per day. The local sobering-up facility had 4,667 admissions that same year from a regional population of 4,425. I will just share with you a quote I sighted a little earlier from the Ceduna Community Heads Group, a key legislative group in Ceduna who have endorsed the concept of the trial. They said:

We want to build a future for our younger generation to aspire to and believe we cannot do this if our families are caught up in the destructive cycle of alcohol or drugs that destroys our culture, our lands and our communities.

At the heart of this reform, is a change that is being shaped specifically to meet our local needs. It has been a true collaboration to ensure that we can give our mob and our Communities every chance to create real and genuine change in their lives.

We have grasped this initiative; we have helped shape this initiative; and we are confident that this initiative is for the betterment of all people within our region.

You are right, Senator Muir, that the area has been chosen because of some particular issues—the level of alcohol abuse, the level of hospital admissions, illegal drug use and the recognition of gambling as being a factor that also harms families. Part of the rationale for having a defined component of someone's payment that can only be accessed through the card is to limit the amount of money that could be used on illicit drugs, gambling or alcohol.

The purpose of the evaluation, which will be put in place, is to see to what extent some of these really bad statistics are reduced through the trial of the card. I emphasise: it is a trial. There will be evaluation, and we do want to learn from the trial.