Cashless Debit Card - Evaluation

Second independent impact evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card trial

A second independent impact evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card trial is currently underway. This evaluation includes the first three Cashless Debit Card trial sites of Ceduna, East Kimberley and the Goldfields. The purpose of this second impact evaluation is to further develop an evidence base for the Cashless Debit Card, to better understand ‘what works, for whom, under what circumstances and when’.

The second independent impact evaluation is being conducted by researchers from the Future of Employment and Skills Research Centre at the University of Adelaide. It has been designed to provide a rigorous evaluation of the impact of the Cashless Debit Card and involves the triangulation of findings from the following three data sources:

  • qualitative interviews with Cashless Debit Card participants and with relevant stakeholders in the Ceduna, East Kimberley and Goldfields Cashless Debit Card trial sites
  • a quantitative survey of Cashless Debit Card participants (target of 1300 respondents in total, across the 3 sites)
  • analysis of relevant administrative data from both before and after implementation of the card, drawn from the Department of Human Services, the Department of Social Services, Indue, and community-level data from the Western Australian and South Australian governments.

The second independent impact evaluation is underpinned and informed by a Stakeholder Engagement Strategy and a University of Adelaide ethics approval process.

Independent baseline data collection in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay

An independent baseline data collection is currently underway in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay Cashless Debit Card trial site. This baseline data collection will investigate and document conditions at the time the Cashless Debit Card is being introduced and provide a strong foundation for future evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card in this site.

The Bundaberg and Hervey Bay baseline data collection is being undertaken by researchers from the Future of Employment and Skills Research Centre at the University of Adelaide. It is underpinned and informed by a Stakeholder Engagement Strategy and a University of Adelaide ethics approval process.

It aligns with the methodology of the second independent impact evaluation, adapted where appropriate to local conditions in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay area.

Cashless Debit Card Baseline Data Collection in the Goldfields Region: Qualitative Findings

The Department of Social Services commissioned the Future of Employment and Skills (FES) Research Centre at the University of Adelaide to undertake an independent baseline data collection in the Goldfields Cashless Debit Card (CDC) site.

The CDC was progressively rolled out in the Goldfields region from March 2018. The baseline data collection in the Goldfields region commenced shortly after the introduction of the CDC in the region.

The purpose of the baseline data collection in the Goldfields CDC site was to identify socio-economic conditions in the Goldfields at the time of the introduction of the Cashless Debit Card. It also captured the community’s initial perceptions of the card immediately following its introduction.

The Cashless Debit Card Baseline Data Collection in the Goldfields Region: Qualitative Findings report was released on 21 February 2019.

The report sources data from in-depth interviews with 66 stakeholder representatives and 64 CDC participants across the Goldfields region.

Independent evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card trial in the Ceduna and East Kimberley regions

The Australian Government commissioned ORIMA Research to undertake a full, independent evaluation of the Cashless Debit Card trial in the Ceduna region, and in the East Kimberley region (Kununurra and Wyndham). The evaluation has reported in three stages:

  1. the Cashless Debit Card trial evaluation – Initial Conditions Report;
  2. the Cashless Debit Card trial evaluation – Wave 1 Interim Evaluation Report; and,
  3. the Cashless Debit Card trial evaluation – Final Evaluation Report.

The Cashless Debit Card trial evaluation – Final Evaluation Report is now available and compares data gathered throughout the evaluation period (April 2016 – July 2017).

The evaluation used qualitative and quantitative research methods and the evaluation design was informed by feedback from:

  • respected academics and commentators with expertise in conducting research and evaluations involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, as expert advisors to the Steering Committee;
  • leaders and representatives of Aboriginal corporations and community organisations in the Ceduna region and East Kimberley region; and
  • officers of Commonwealth and State Government agencies with on-the-ground experience in both sites.

The evaluation assessed harm reduction impacts of the Trial on individual and community functioning, focusing on social harm caused by alcohol consumption, drug use and gambling.

The final evaluation report was released on 1 September 2017.

The evaluation found that the Cashless Debit Card has had a “considerable positive impact” in the two trial communities of Ceduna and the East Kimberley.

It concluded that the Cashless Debit Card trial “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”.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Alcohol – of participants who reported that they do drink alcohol, 41 per cent of participants reported drinking alcohol less frequently, while 37 per cent of participants reported binge drinking less frequently.
  • Gambling – of participants who reported they do gamble, 48 per cent of participants reported gambling less.
  • Drug use – of participants who reported using illegal drugs before the program commenced, 48 per cent reported using illegal drugs less often.

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

  • Of the trial participants surveyed, 40 per cent said they were better able to look after their children.
  • 45 per cent of trial participants have been better able to save money
  • Feedback that there had 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 trial.

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