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Senators seek feedback on Cashless Debit Card

Jul 18, 2017

KLC Directors pictured with Senators Jacqui Lambie and and Skye Kakoschke-Moore who were in Kununurra last week to investigate the Cashless Debit Card.

Kimberley Land Council Directors met with Senators Jacqui Lambie and Skye Kakoschke-Moore at their quarterly board meeting in Kununurra last week.

In the region as part of a three-day tour of the East Kimberley investigating the Cashless Debit Card, the Senators were keen to hear the views of KLC Directors.

The KLC Board voiced its support for measures that assist people to overcome substance abuse issues, but had diverse views about any real benefits of the card following its roll out in Kununurra and Wyndham.

Kimberley Land Council Director Marianne Skeen raised concerns about the level of consultation with local communities.

“This card has been forced on communities with little or no consultation with the people who are most affected,” Ms Skeen said.

“In Halls Creek, the State Government tried to impose the scheme on the community before it was rejected by the Shire.

“This is another example of governments making decisions for us, not with us.”

Fellow KLC Director Greg Tait questioned the government’s decision to limit the trial to areas with a high proportion of Indigenous residents.

“Substance abuse is not just an Indigenous issue,” Mr Tait said. “These problems affect all Australians from all walks of life.

“If the government really wants to know if this card works and can make a difference they should target all types of communities.”

KLC Chairman Anthony Watson said there remains no clear evidence of the card’s success in the East Kimberley.

“This card is a band aid solution, which does not go to the heart of addressing the real systemic issues of alcohol and drug abuse,” Mr Watson said.

“Indigenous people make up just 3 per cent of the Australian population. Yet time and again our people seem to bear the brunt of government policies and programs aimed at addressing issues that affect the entire Australian community.”

The Board also raised concerns about the lack of support services to help people reduce their dependence on alcohol or drugs, and have better financial management practices.

“Communities must be prepared well in advance for life changing policies,” Mr Watson added. “This has been sorely lacking in Wyndham and Kununurra with the rollout of the Cashless Debit Card.”