Title Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017
Database Explanatory Memoranda
Date 16-04-2018 02:26 PM
Source Senate
System Id legislation/ems/r5939_ems_12f7b23e-5633-4b69-bf9f-7a59ff57e420

Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017













































 (Circulated by the authority of the

Minister for Social Services, the Honourable Dan Tehan MP)







This addendum responds to comments raised by the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills in Scrutiny Digest No. 12, dated 18 October 2017.


The Committee recommended that the information provided by the Minister to the Committee be included in the Explanatory Memorandum.







Remove the third paragraph ‘This amendment does not remove…’ and insert the following new paragraphs:


This amendment does not remove the legislative safeguards protecting how, when and where the cashless debit card can operate. It only removes a date beyond which the program could not continue. The legislation continues to ensure that the program can only be implemented in a location with the introduction of a disallowable instrument.


Broadly, the use of delegated legislation such as legislative instruments allows the Government, with appropriate parliamentary scrutiny, to determine the application of the cashless debit card on a community-by-community basis.


Details such as participant numbers and start and end dates are dependent on community needs, which are identified through strong engagement with the community. The use of instruments allows Government to work more closely with individual communities to tailor application of the cashless debit card to meet these community needs, within the broader principles set out in the legislation. It also allows those communities to make decisions about these arrangements in their own time.   


The principles around the cashless debit card set out in the primary legislation include the objectives for trialling such arrangements, parameters for trial participation and guidance on the split and usage of restricted welfare payments.


The selection of sites for the cashless debit card is guided by the objectives of the primary legislation. The use of legislative instruments to specify a location and define the details of how the program can operate in any particular location provides the necessary flexibility to give effect to the objectives of the program in a chosen location.


The legislation specifies which social security payments can trigger a participant for the program, and that a specified trial area must be the ‘usual place of residence’ for a participant in that location to be triggered.


The criteria for participation set out in the legislation are directly linked to the objectives of the cashless debit card. Further criteria for participation within these limitations can be specified through disallowable instruments to meet a particular community’s needs in addressing social harm.




Page 3 – Replace Paragraphs 3, 4 and 5, commencing “In March 2017…” with the following:


The final independent evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card Trial by ORIMA Research was released on 1 September 2017, and included results from the two trial sites, Ceduna and the East Kimberley.


The evaluation found that the Cashless Debit Card has had a “considerable positive impact” in the communities where it has operated. The evaluation also concluded that the trial “has been effective in reducing alcohol consumption and gambling in both trial sites and [is] also suggestive of a reduction in the use of illegal drugs”, and “that there is some evidence that there has been a consequential reduction in violence and harm related to alcohol consumption, illegal drug use and gambling.”


In particular, the evaluation reported the following findings:

·             Of people surveyed who drank alcohol before the trial started, 41 per cent  reported drinking alcohol less frequently (up from 25 per cent in the Wave 1 survey, which was done approximately six months into the trial); 37 per cent of binge drinkers were doing this less frequently (up from 25 per cent at Wave 1).

·             A decrease in alcohol-related hospital presentations including a 37 per cent reduction in Ceduna in the first quarter of 2017 compared with first quarter of 2016 (immediately prior to the commencement of the trial).

·             A 14 per cent reduction in Ceduna in the number of apprehensions under the Public Intoxication Act compared to the previous year.

·             In the East Kimberley, decreases in the alcohol-related pick-ups by the community patrol services in Kununurra (15 per cent reduction) and Wyndham (12 per cent), and referrals to the sobering up shelter in Kununurra (8 per cent reduction).

·             Qualitative evidence of a decrease in the number of women in East Kimberley hospital maternity wards drinking through pregnancy.

·             Qualitative evidence of a decrease in alcohol-related family violence notifications in Ceduna.

·             A noticeable reduction in the number of visible or public acts of aggression and violent behaviour. Nearly 40 per cent of non-participants perceived that violence in their community had decreased.

·             People are now seeking medical treatment for conditions that were previously masked by alcohol effects.

·             48 per cent of gamblers reported gambling less (up from 32 per cent at Wave 1).


·             In Ceduna and surrounding local government areas (which covers a much bigger region than is covered by the card’s operation), poker machine revenue was down 12 per cent.  This is the equivalent of almost $550,000 less spent on poker machines in the 12 month trial.

·             The card has had “a positive impact in lowering illegal drug use” across the two sites.

·             Of those who reported drug use before the trial started, 48 per cent reported using illegal drugs less often (up from 24 per cent at Wave 1).

·             40 per cent of participants who had caring responsibility reported that they had been better able to care for their children (up from 31 per cent at Wave 1).

·             45 per cent of participants have been better able to save more money (up from 31 per cent at Wave 1).

·             Feedback that there has been a decrease in requests for emergency food relief and financial assistance in Ceduna.

·             Merchant reports of increased purchases of baby items, food, clothing, shoes, toys and other goods for children.

·             Considerable observable evidence being cited by many community leaders and stakeholders of a reduction in crime, violence and harmful behaviours over the duration of the trials.