Card talk set to fire de­bates

Pilbara News - - Pilbara | News - Tom Zaun­mayr

De­bate about the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a cash­less wel­fare card is heat­ing up in the Pil­bara, as the trial pre­pares to roll out in Kal­go­or­lie and other re­gions across Aus­tralia.

The card will likely be a hot topic at next month’s Yule River bush meet­ing, where tra­di­tional own­ers from the North and Mid West con­verge to hold a fo­rum with politi­cians on key is­sues af­fect­ing indige­nous peo­ple.

Ya­matji Marlpa Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon Hawkins said those call­ing for the card’s im­ple­men­ta­tion needed to present ev­i­dence of it’s suc­cess be­fore try­ing to push it into other re­gions.

“If there is a case for im­ple­men­ta­tion of this sys­tem it should be con­sid­ered . . . but we are in the dark and this is dam­ag­ing re­la­tion­ships be­tween Abo­rig­i­nal and non-Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple.”

Mr Hawkins also crit­i­cised a video re­leased by the Min­deroo Foun­da­tion as por­tray­ing “ex­treme” views which were not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the wider com­mu­nity.

The video, which Min­deroo Foun­da­tion says is a sep­a­rate is­sue to the cash­less wel­fare card, used footage of vi­o­lence in the streets, sta­tis­tics of sex­ual abuse and in­ter­views with the former WA Po­lice Com­mis­sioner and Port Hed­land’s mayor to spur the govern­ment into ac­tion.

Cash­less debit card man­ager Dougall Ethell said where the card was in­tro­duced, com­mu­ni­ties could then de­cide what ex­tra ser­vices would be im­ple­mented along­side it.

Mr Ethell said in Roe­bourne’s case, this could mean work­ing to­wards the long-called-for safe house for chil­dren.

“There is this per­cep­tion of (the cards’ im­ple­men­ta­tion) com­ing down from the top, but it is in­cred­i­ble when you see how much the com­mu­nity ac­tu­ally has a say in how it works,” he said.

Mr Ethell said the card would not cut wel­fare pay­ments, it only re­duced the amount that could be spent on drugs and al­co­hol.

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

Ya­matji Marlpa Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon Hawkins.

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