The cashless debit card, used by about 800 welfare recipients in Ceduna, could be expanded to include the rest of Eyre Peninsula in the future.
Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said he would like to see the cashless debit card – being trialled in Ceduna and Kununurra in Western Australia to curb the impact of alcohol, gambling and drug use – rolled out throughout Australia.
“The welfare card holds 80 per cent of a person’s welfare money, instead of being deposited into their bank account, and has electronic bars on alcohol, gambling and the withdrawal of cash, thus barring the recipients’ access to drugs,” Mr Ramsey said.
“While most on welfare are very responsible, the card addresses the undeniable and appalling problem of babies being born with foetal alcohol syndrome, children going hungry, lives being lost and families destroyed by alcohol fueled violence.”
He said the introduction of the card in Ceduna and Kununurra was an outstanding success, and had resulted in lower crime rates and fewer family issues.
“I’m personally quite keen to see it rolled out across Australia,” Mr Ramsey said.
He said the program should be introduced in communities that had higher levels of drug and alcohol abuse.
Mr Ramsey said the increase in methamphetamine use over the past five years had been a “very challenging experience”.
“(We have) got to stand up for the victims...it’s not a silver bullet but it seems to be making a real difference.”
The trial will be expanded to Kalgoorlie in July, following a Senate decision this month.
Mr Ramsey said a fourth trial site in Bundaberg was considered but it was opposed by the Senate.
“People in Ceduna should be proud to have shown the nation the way,” Mr Ramsey said.
“The town is increasing its reputation as a great destination but much more importantly as the town that stood for the lives of those who were being dragged down by alcohol and drugs.”