Drinking, drugs down at welfare card sites

Daniel McCulloch
AAP

THE REPORT CARD ON CASHLESS WELFARE CARDS

An evaluation of cashless welfare card trials at Ceduna in South Australia and the East Kimberley in Western Australia has shown a drop in drinking and gambling but the results are not all positive.

Alcohol:

* 41 per cent of drinkers are consuming alcohol less frequently

* 37 per cent of binge drinkers are doing so less often

* Booze-fuelled hospitalisations and public intoxications offences have fallen in Ceduna

* Alcohol-related pick-ups by community patrol services fell in the East Kimberley along with the number of women drinking through pregnancy

Gambling:

* 48 per cent of gamblers are gambling less

* Poker machine revenue is down 12 per cent in Ceduna and surrounding areas

Drugs:

* 48 per cent of drug takers are using illicit substances less often

Flow on benefits:

* 40 per cent of participants feel they are better able to care for their children

* 45 per cent of participants are better able to save money

Adverse impacts:

* Almost one-third of participants indicated the cards had made their lives worse

* Only 17 per cent felt their children's lives had improved

* Crime statistics showed no improvement apart from fewer drug-driving offences and instances of public intoxication

* 4 per cent of participants raised concerns about stigma or shame associated with the card

* 6 per cent of participants mentioned a lack of freedom or concerns about their rights

* One in three participants reported issues including being unable to transfer money to children away at boarding school, being unable to pool funds for larger purchases, and technical difficulties using the card