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Submission to the senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into the Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Income Management and Cashless Welfare) Bill 2019

First Peoples economic conditions Welfare recipients Cashless debit card Income management

The Western Australian Council of Social Service's submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into the Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Income Management and Cashless Welfare) Bill 2019.

Key Findings:

  • WACOSS strongly opposes the extension of the cashless debit card trials to June 2020.
  • Individuals that WACOSShave spoken to in the East Kimberley have reported a serious sense of disempowerment amongst participants in the trial, such as continued deteriorating in the quality of life for families and children, who have experienced significant suffering while on the Cashless Debit Cards as a result of mental ill-health, chronic illness and violence.
  • ‘Recall bias’ is where reliability is impaired because people’s memories of past patterns of behaviour are unreliable and shown to be easily influenced by the context in which questions about historic behaviour are asked. Recall data needs to be tested against primary sources of data such as actual spending behaviour.
  • The data from the East Kimberley and Ceduna sites were weighted equally, despite the East Kimberley having a much higher rate of trial participants (1247 compared to 757).

Attempting to address complex social issues in highly impoverished regions with a blunt instrument like the Cashless Debit Card is simply inappropriate. Instead, the investment and focus should be on job creation and providing appropriate, culturally-accessible services that support people to address alcohol and other drug misuse and problem gambling.

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