WA could host second welfare card trial

Cashless welfare cards could soon be rolled out across a second Western Australian site, with three Goldfield towns throwing their hats in the ring to take part in an upcoming trial.


The federal government will continue two existing debit card test runs – one in the East Kimberley region of WA and another at Ceduna in South Australia – and is looking for two more trial sites.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge will visit Kalgoorlie, Laverton and Leonora on Wednesday to meet with community leaders.

“They have certainly been one of the groups that has reached out and said that they would like to explore the introduction of the card in their region,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

“But we certainly have not made any decisions and we will be having discussions in relation to it tomorrow.”

The cards quarantine 80 per cent of welfare payments, which cannot be used to buy booze or gamble but can pay for housing, food, clothing, household supplies and essentials.

The remaining 20 per cent of a welfare payment is placed in a person’s regular bank account and can be withdrawn as cash.

A recent review of the two existing trials found the cards had been effective in reducing alcohol consumption, illegal drug use and gambling.

However half the participants surveyed said their lives were worse than before the trials.

Mr Tudge said many other regions had put their hands up for the cards but the government would limit the trials to two additional areas.

“In Western Australia, there are many troubled regions where welfare-fuelled alcohol abuse particularly causes all sorts of harm,” he said.

“Consequently, in Western Australia I have had community leaders from right across the state who have approached me in relation to it.”

Mr Tudge said the intention has never been to roll out the cards nationally, with the cards instead developed to focus on particular regions in need.

The two new cashless welfare card trials are expected to start in September.