Evaluation of the cashless debit card trial: initial conditions report

8 March 2017

The Australian Government is undertaking a Cashless Debit Card Trial (CDCT) to deliver and manage income support payments (ISPs), with the aim of reducing levels of community harm related to alcohol consumption, drug use and gambling. 

In the CDCT, a proportion of an individual’s ISP is directed to a restricted bank account, accessed by a debit card (not allowing cash withdrawals). Participation in the CDCT is mandatory for all working age ISP recipients who live in the selected trial sites. In addition, wage earners, Age Pensioners and Veterans Affairs Pensioners who live in the trial sites can opt-in to the CDCT. 

To date, the CDCT is being implemented in Ceduna and Surrounds in South Australia and Kununurra / Wyndham (East Kimberley) in Western Australia. 

The Department of Social Services (DSS) commissioned ORIMA Research to conduct an independent evaluation of the CDCT. This report is focused on identifying initial conditions prevailing in the trial sites before the implementation of the CDCT. 

The report is primarily based on the findings of qualitative research (interviews and focus groups) with key stakeholders in each of the trial sites. It also includes some coverage of administrative data that was available at the time of report writing. 

A total of 37 stakeholders (members of regional leadership groups as well as government and non- government service providers) participated in the qualitative research, which was conducted between 21 April and 26 May 2016. 

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ORIMA Research, 2017, Evaluation of the cashless debit card trial: initial conditions report, Department of Social Services (Australia), viewed 27 March 2017, <http://apo.org.au/node/74597>.

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