Welfare Quarantining

The Commonwealth Government is considering the best possible ways to support people, families and communities in locations where high levels of welfare dependence co-exist with high levels of social harm underpinned by alcohol, drug use and gambling. The Cashless Debit Card has been designed to help disadvantaged communities decrease the level of consumption of drugs, alcohol and gambling which impacts on the health and wellbeing of communities, families and children.

In early 2016, a Cashless Debit Card trial was conducted in two communities across Australia. The trial began in Ceduna, South Australia on 15 March 2016, and Kununurra and Wyndham, Western Australia on 26 April 2016. As a result, the Income Management program in these regions was suspended but continued to operate in other locations across the country.

On 14 March 2017, the Government announced the extension of the use of the Cashless Debit Card in Ceduna and the East Kimberley based on the results from an independent evaluation.

In the 2017-18 Budget, the Government announced its intention to expand the Cashless Debit Card to two new locations. Income Management will also be extended to 30 June 2019.

The Goldfields region in Western Australia will be one of the new expansion sites following support for the card in the region, and the positive findings of the independent final evaluation of the card. This was announced by the Government on 1 September 2017.

Queensland’s Federal Electorate of Hinkler was announced as the other expansion site by the Government on 21 September 2017.

The expansion of the Cashless Debit Card demonstrates the Government’s commitment to a strong social welfare safety net, reducing social harm in areas with high levels of welfare dependency and supporting vulnerable people, families and communities.

For Ministerial announcements regarding the Cashless Debit Card, go to www.mhs.gov.au/media-releases

For more information, you can email CashlessDebitCard@dss.gov.au or call 1800 252 604.

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