With support from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) and the Department of Human Services (DHS), and developed in close consultation with local community leaders, local and state government agencies and other Australian Government agencies, the Department of Social Services (DSS) is conducting a Trial of a Cashless Debit Card (CDC) for income support payments (ISPs) in two remote communities.

The Cashless Debit Card Trial (CDCT) aims to reduce the levels of harm underpinned by alcohol consumption, illicit drug use and gambling by limiting Trial participants’ access to cash and by preventing the purchase of alcohol or gambling products (other than lottery tickets). Eighty per cent of CDCT participants’ ISPs, as well as other supplementary payments, are directed to a restricted bank account, accessed by the debit card, with the remainder of these payments accessible through a normal (unrestricted) bank account. The percentage of funds accessible in an unrestricted manner (e.g. as cash) may be varied by local community panels, up to a maximum of 50%. Participation in the Trial is mandatory for all working age ISP recipients in the selected Trial sites. Wage earners, Age Pensioners and Veterans’ Affairs Pensioners who live in the Trial sites, and people outside of the Trial sites (subject to approval by DSS) can volunteer for the CDCT.

The Trial commenced in Ceduna and Surrounds (South Australia, SA) on 15 March 2016; and in the East Kimberley (EK) region (Western Australia, WA) on 26 April 2016.  As at 2 June 2017, there was a total of 2,141 CDCT participants (794 in Ceduna and Surrounds and 1,347 in EK). A large majority of CDCT participants in each Trial site identified as being Indigenous Australians.

ORIMA Research was commissioned by DSS to independently evaluate the trial in both locations. This report presents the final findings of the evaluation.

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