Member for Barker Tony Pasin has welcomed positive results of the final independent evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card trials that has found that it has had a “considerable positive impact” in the communities where it has operated.The Cashless Debit Card trials operated in Ceduna from 15 March 2016 and the East Kimberley from 26 April 2016 for a period of 12 months. An independent evaluation into the trials has now been completed.

Conducted by ORIMA Research and released this week, the evaluation concluded that the Cashless Debit Card 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 found in relation to alcohol:

  • Of people who drank alcohol, 41% reported drinking alcohol less frequently; 37% of binge drinkers were doing this less frequently.
  • A decrease in alcohol-related hospital presentations including a 37% 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% 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% reduction) and Wyndham (12%), and referrals to the sobering up shelter in Kununurra (8% reduction).
  • 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% 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.

The evaluation found in relation to gambling:

  • 48% of gamblers reported gambling less.
  • In Ceduna and surrounding local government areas, poker machine revenue was down 12%. This is the equivalent of almost $550,000 less spent on poker machines in the 12 month trial.

The evaluation found in relation to drug taking:

  • The card has had “a positive impact in lowering illegal drug use” across the two sites.
  • Of drug takers, 48% reported using illegal drugs less often.

The evaluation also found “widespread spill-over benefits” from the card including:

  • 40% of participants who had caring responsibility reported that they had been better able to care for their children.
  • 45% of participants have been better able to save more money.
  • 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.
  • Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, who has led the design and implementation of the trials, said the evaluation demonstrated that the trials had been a success in reducing alcohol, gambling and drugs.

Member for Barker Tony Pasin said these results were a positive sign that Coalition Government initiatives to tackle the issues of drugs, alcohol and gambling in society and help get people off welfare and back into the workforce are working.

“Australia is fortunate to have a strong social security safety net to assist those in need. While welfare, for a short period, can be a blessing for a capable person temporarily out of work, long term welfare dependence can become a poison. We must reform the system to discourage dependence and encourage people back into work,” Mr Pasin said.

“The best form of welfare is a job, and everything should be geared towards supporting capable people into work wherever possible.  This is the fundamental principle that our policies in this space are built upon,” Said Mr Pasin.


The Cashless Debit Card trials operated in Ceduna from 15 March 2016 and the East Kimberley from 26 April 2016 for a period of 12 months. The Cashless Debit Card’s operation in the two communities has been extended.

Under the trials, 80 percent of all welfare payments were placed into an account that was only accessible by the Cashless Debit Card. The Card is a Visa debit card that operates like any other Visa debit card, but does not work at liquor stores, gambling houses and cash cannot be withdrawn from it.

The trial sites were chosen on the basis of a demonstrable need plus the support of local leaders.

As noted in the Initial Conditions Report, there was widespread local concern about high levels of alcohol consumption and, to a lesser extent illicit drug use and gambling. Most community leaders and stakeholders indicated that these issues “had been becoming progressively worse over the past 5-10 years” and that excessive alcohol consumption was at a “crisis point”, and having “wide-ranging negative impacts on individuals, their families and the community”

In the 2017-18 Budget, the Government announced it would expand the Cashless Debit Card into two new regions. The announcements of the two new locations will be made in the coming months.

See for the ORIMA Research Cashless Debit Card Trial Final Evaluation Report.
CONTACT: Charlotte Edmunds 8531 2466