Card scheme questioned | West Coast Sentinel

A GROUP of West Coast locals are rallying for residents to make their opinions known about the trial of the welfare card scheme to control alcoholism within the community.

This comes after a senate committee hearing was held on Friday in relation to the cashless debit card, with a focus on any implications the trial would have.

Under the trial people will continue to receive a portion of their payment as usual and a portion will be put into a cashless account, which can be spent on anything except alcohol, drugs and gambling.

The cashless card will be delivered by a commercial provider, which will be providing support services similar to a regular bank.

Ceduna mayor Allan Suter gave evidence at the committee hearing and said enabling legislation needed to go through before the trial could progress.

“In the meantime we will proceed to plan, make arrangements for the trials and address any negatives in consultation with the senior leaders group and the commonwealth government,” he said.

“The group is trying to anticipate any negatives that will arise and try to offset those and assist those who might be disadvantaged.”

However there is a group of Ceduna residents who also provided evidence at the hearing and are arguing for the scheme not to proceed in its current form.

The group of six people have argued that much of the community was left in the dark about the set up of the trial and that it was taking a shotgun approach that punishes too many people.

One of the people, David Pav, said there had been a lack of community consultation.

“They were highly publicising that the community wanted this, but if you do a Google search you’ll find that there was little information about the welfare card until the end of July when they said it was a done deal,” he said.

The group has argued that the card, together with the takeaway alcohol scheme, was essentially prohibition.

They have argued for complete transparency and for the scheme to be voluntary and targeted.

Mr Suter said there was already work being done to sort out any issues before the trial begins in February, but making the scheme voluntary would ultimately be pointless.

“It was found that the people who most needed the help would never volunteer,” he said.

“It’s aimed to be non-discriminatory, applying to all people is the only way it would be most effective.

“Welfare payments are for assistance of people who need the help, it’s supplied by the government and the government has the right to attach conditions to it.”

The Ceduna locals have organised a community meeting at the Ceduna Foreshore Hotel Motel at 1pm on Sunday for people to discuss their views on the welfare card and on the alcohol rules.

The group is hoping to have a more concrete community viewpoint to present to the council and to the government in the near future.

A petition has also been developed, which will be put around the town.

Another group member, Sue Haseldine, said people had started to truly understand the situation.

Source: Card scheme questioned | West Coast Sentinel

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