Cashless debit card - Evaluation

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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