I’m very pleased to be here joined by my federal colleague Melissa Price as well as Terry Redman, the State Minister and some of the Indigenous leaders including Jean here from Wyndham.
Today we’re announcing that Kununurra and Wyndham will be the second trial site for the Welfare Debit Card. It won’t just be the card, but it will also be a package of reforms which will be introduced from March to April from next year.
What this means is that instead of the Government placing all the welfare dollars into an individuals cash account, instead 80 per cent will be placed into an account which is only accessible via this Visa debit card.
This card will work anywhere to purchase anything but it simply won’t work at the bottle shop, it won’t work at the gambling house and you won’t be able to get cash from it so consequently you can’t purchase illicit drugs. Otherwise it will operate like any other Visa debit card.
The other interesting thing about this card is it will also be connected to your mobile phone so that when you make a purchase you’ll get sent a text message which will inform you of making that purchase and what your account balance is.
You’ll also get a text message informing you when you’ve got a payment which is being put into that account. And we hope that by doing this it will assist people to balance their payments across the fortnightly cycle.
Alongside the card we’re also introducing a number of drug and alcohol services to assist people get off their dependency.
The combination of the card plus these additional drug and alcohol services represents a full-scale assault against alcohol dependency in this community which unfortunately is way too high.
On top of that we’re also introducing additional measures such as early childhood measures and further employment measures.
I’ll just say one further thing. Alongside the elements of the package which are so important, the other reason why this announcement is important is the way that this process has been conducted in partnership with the community leaders and the State Government and the Federal Government cooperatively.
Initially this was led by the indigenous leaders who called for this trial to occur here.
When indigenous leaders stand up and call for reform I think governments should back them. That’s exactly what we’ve done here.
We’ve worked very cooperatively in partnership and I hope that this method of working together can be a model for what we do elsewhere in this state and indeed across the nation.
I think for us indigenous leaders it’s a great step towards making a future for our children and our younger generation which will be I think it’s their chance to come and live as other Australians do at the same level, like having education and a good job and whatever is required for their life skill.
We’re very proud of this step that we made as indigenous leaders. I’d like to say that we commend each other on this decision and as to talking (inaudible).
Just to be part of this is a great decision and it also wasn’t made as an individual decision. It was like a collective decision with the Government and we are most privileged to have that because in the past we haven’t had that.
The Government came to the table with the people and so we hope we will guide along as leaders and we will make a good future for our children and ourselves and our community and to rid of all these things that actually affect us. The drugs, the alcohol and the gambling and whatever else that comes with it.
I’m very proud of this day as an indigenous leader and hopefully it will open doors for our children, our indigenous children and going to boarding and stuff like that.