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Features of the ANAO report into the 12-month Ceduna and East Kimberley region Cashless Debit Card Trial

One of the most astonishing features of the ANAO report, ‘The Implementation and Performance of the Cashless Debit Card Trial,’ apart from the conclusion that the trial had failed to prove the policy had reduced social harms, has to be the fact that no KPIs (key performance indicators) or measurement targets were put in place by the department to measure key trial objective criteria – including social harms!

Reviewing the section of the report titled ‘Assessment of evaluation KPIs against the criteria of relevant, reliable and complete’ – you come to see just how much of ‘Clayton’s trial’ this entire process has been. Nothing of relevant substance was ever actually recorded or measured.

The ANAO report focused on the first 12 months of the Cashless Debit Card trial and once you step past the department appeasing fluff of the first section, in their KPI evaluation the ANAO report found:

“3.53 Some data was not collected; and the data was inconsistent and not fit for purpose (e.g. some covered wider geographical areas). (see paragraph 3.31)”

So, vital data was not collected (or in the case of DV statistics, simply ignored); data collected was different between the sites and, as has been a pattern the LNP are fond of, regions not included in the CDCT roll out area were included in Orima evaluation:

“3.52 Anecdotal information reported to the Minister suggested an increase in school attendance, but ANAO analysis of state data available to Social Services showed that attendance was relatively stable for non-indigenous students but it had declined by 1.7 per cent for indigenous students, after the implementation of the trial compared to the same period (between May to August) in 2015.”

So rather than the spin, school attendance actually went down during the trial and evaluation period, and to our awareness, this was most likely due to the fact public buses do not accept the Indue card.

“3.51 The Minister was advised that there was a decrease in the total number of St John Ambulance call-outs in September 2016 compared to September 2015. Accounting for seasonality in the data, ANAO found, in analysing the data over a longer period, there was a 17 per cent increase in call-outs from April to October 2016 when compared to the previous year.”

This means that Government and Mindaroo/Generation One representatives have misrepresented the St Johns ambulance call out data to the parliament, in senate hearings and to the media and public several times.

“KPI was put in place to measure the success of support services that were part of the trial.”

This is astounding given the pretext for the trial was to prove the success/failure of the policy to reduce social harms. Outcomes on the ground recorded by these services, as opposed to collected curbside ‘perceptions’, are the only way to objectively measure trial objectives.

Their quantifiable outcomes establish the basis for verifiable results.

“No baseline set and no specific targets set to measure frequency/volume of gambling and associated problems.”

This is one of the four primary objectives for the card, yet it was never measured.

A reminder here that Keith Pitt did not provide any evidentiary data to Senate or anywhere else to prove his claim Centrelink recipients were responsible for unbelievably high rates of gambling in his electorate – gambling rates that have increased since the CDC trial began there.

“No baseline set collected and no specific targets were set to measure frequency of use/volume consumed of drugs & alcohol;

  • No specific targets were set to measure the alcohol consumed by participants per week;
  • % of participants who say they have used non-prescription drugs in the last week;
  • number of times per week spend more than $50 a day on drugs not prescribed by a doctor;
  • number of times per week have six or more drinks of alcohol at one time (binge drinking);
  • and % of participants, family members and general community members reporting a decrease in drinking of alcohol in the community since commencement of Trial.”

There was no collection of official baseline statistics on any of the all important ‘three evils’ (their words, not ours); gambling, drug addiction, alcohol. So no ‘what it was like‘.

No actual quantitative data was ever collected prior to trial commencement and then, no specific goals/targets were ever put into the trial monitoring, management or legislation to measure if numbers/rates had dropped as a result of the trial at all. So, no ‘what happened’ and no verifiable picture of ‘what it’s like now‘ either.

The three basic core principles for conducting and determining the result of a ‘trial’ or any legitimate goal, have been completely ignored.

To our mind, the only reason trial objectives would take no priority, is if they were never objectives at all.

Given no formal KPIs or targets were ever put in place to measure this critically relevant data for comparative analysis, how the hell were trials allowed to continue?

This is a very important issue right now, as this exact same failure has been repeated in Goldfields trial zone, where we see – yet again – that none of these measurements were made or appeared in the so-called ‘baseline study’ released by the government in February 2019.

Adelaide University’s ‘baseline study’ (see above link) not only did not collect this data that is directly related to the primary objectives of the trial, they began their ‘baseline’ study after trials had begun and predominantly recorded perceptions not facts (anecdotal evidence) interviewing only a minuscule number of people actually subject to the policy by comparison to he number ‘stakeholder groups’ the record.

We need not remind anyone by now, that ‘stakeholder groups’ are better known as paid and preferentially appointed (by the Dept) business and community groups. This includes those service groups who’s funding is existentially reliant on their participation – whose staff are gagged from reporting or giving opinions on government matters.

“No plan in place to continue to evaluate the CDC to test its roll-out in other settings.”

This inclusion is very important as it demonstrates every report or evaluation decision to come since the Orima report has been devised ‘on the run‘ and as with Adelaide Uni’s Evaluation – has been compelled by rising political and public interest and awareness. Good work everyone. Keep the pressure for accountability on!

This is also why it is so important to keep the current legislative requirement for independent review and trial evaluations in place and not let that clause be lost in the Transition Bill 2019. Government must be compelled to provide more data, not less, and to oversee and manage “trials” more effectively and legitimately.

Please note there is still no official reporting, evaluation requirement or even basic record of compulsory trial participant negative impacts and Administrative Appeals Tribunal redress rules apply differently to people on income management.

“3.53 Social Services indicated to the ANAO that the monitoring statistics provided inconclusive results due to the short-time frame of the trial. The ANAO found that other factors also impacted on the performance results including: some data was not collected; and the data was inconsistent and not fit for purpose (e.g. some covered wider geographical areas). (see paragraph 3.31).”

So again, even where some targets were set down on paper, the Orima report data either – included data from areas outside of trial regions; was not collected at all, or the data was inconsistent when it was collected.

“Key areas of the CDCT relating to the administrative and operational aspects of the trial such as the Social Services call centre, well being exemptions, community visits, levels of cash available in the community and staff training were not measured with KPIs. This reduced the ability of Social Services to drive improvement in the operational aspects of the CDC.”

It was truly astounding to learn that the #1 objective listed in the Social Security (admin) Act 1999, ‘reducing levels of cash in the community’ was not even measured!

“There is a lack of ongoing KPIs post ORIMA’s evaluation to measure on the CDC’s wider goal of ‘encouraging socially responsible behaviour’ per the trial legislation and the other goals of the trial over the long term.”

We can see no ‘new’ KPI’s or measurement targets in place in publicly available information, even now. If they do exist, they are being concealed by the department and may or may not become available at some time. The concern here is that KPI’s could simply be added at any time to any report, to reflect whatever data is produced.

“There were no efficiency focused KPIs to drive the measurement of the CDC’s efficiency, particularly against existing welfare quarantining measures. This means that a key intent of the CDC as noted in the Forrest Review to drive down the cost and resources involved in welfare quarantining was not measured by a KPI.”

The absence of this data means that the minister and department can claim what they like in the media and on their websites. Without this particular data set, they can’t prove a word.

It is clear from the ANAO report, that trial objectives are being ignored and the department is not interested in producing any data that would permit even rudimentary comparative analysis between the CDC trials and other compulsory income management measures.

This being the case, there may never be a way to prove the CDC is ever legitimately a success, comparatively or otherwise. Proof of policy failure already abounds, though it remains unrecorded and the voices of those impacted, are denied their agency and representation.

Aside from government being in a hurry to abdicate its responsibility to the Australian people and obsessively consumed with offloading Centreilnk services to the private sector as fast as possible, not one aspect of this “trial” has integrity when the legislated trial objectives are prioritised and the DATA actually analysed.

* * * * * * *

Please note that the italicised text block quotes are from the ANAO report. Again, here is the link to the report.

If you are interested to read a brief expert analysis of the Orima report including the revelation that for 77% of people there was no positive outcome from the trial period, please see these articles by Dr Janet Hunt, ANU:

Dr Hunt has been very vocal with the news that the Orima report was not the ‘proof of success’ the minister claimed it to be, speaking in media and in the Senate on several occasions; yet somehow the Murdoch press and so the majority of the Australian public simply failed to notice.

What the ANAO report does record clearly, is that the department put in place all the right words, and then did absolutely nothing to action them.

Sound familiar?

We will go into ‘procurement’ issues at a later point.

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12 comments

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  1. Terence Mills

    This has me very worried about the feasibiilty study – to which taxpayers are contributing $4million – for the Collinsville coal fired power station

    Evidently it’s being compiled by a company who have a vested interest and so far the criteria for the study have not been released.

  2. New England Cocky

    This interesting AIMN report demonstrates that the Smirkie Sacked from Marketing Liarbral Nazianal$ misgovernment have no idea about experimental design and even less concern about the outcomes. The Indue Card is required to give the proponents who have political connections a source of revenue forever and a day at the total expense of the Australian people.

    Once the feasibility study is completed, proponents may say, “We did a trial and found no evidence of harm in the communities where it was trialled”. The fact that there was no base data, nor any intention to collect meaningful data, will be considered irrelevant, and few persons will seek out this ANAO Report to discover the real truth of the matter.

    The only thing that is relevant is that each card earned about $10,000 PER YEAR for the proponents times the number of unemployed persons PLUS number of aged pensioners.

    I wonder if Barnyard Joke has any skin in this money making scam …..

  3. Sam

    And, yet again, how did an IPA, non MP direct legislation from which his Co., along with lib MPs solely profit.

  4. David Evans

    Australia, you have been conned yet again.

  5. pierre wilkinson

    just imagine if the administration cost of about $10,000 was allocated to those on welfare…
    what a stimulus to the economy that would produce
    how many living below poverty levels would be lifted into a semblance of security
    but no, we can’t afford $75 pw increase
    but we can waste $200 in admin fees

  6. ajogrady

    Australia! A country of boiling frogs.
    If the majority of the people of Australia will not hold this cabal of corrupt criminals to account who will ?

    First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist

    Then they came for the Socialists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist

    Then they came for the trade unionists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a trade unionist

    Then they came for the Jews
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Jew

    Then they came for me
    And there was no one left
    To speak out for me

    (German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller)( (1892–1984)

    This is about the cowardice and obfuscation of German intellectuals and certain clergy (including, by his own admission, Niemöller himself) following the Nazis’ rise to power and subsequent incremental purging of their chosen targets, group after group.
    Another group who have shown themselves to obfuscating cowards are the Fourth Estate.The Fourth Estate, mostly referred to as ‘the press’ and news media both in explicit capacity of advocacy and implicit ability to frame political issues. It is the guardian of veritas or truth and has a special obligation as such as to the people as it wields significant indirect social influence and is fundamental to a functioning and robust Democracy. Australia’s Fourth Estate is an impediment to a functioning and robust Democracy. The Fourth Estate has a privileged position in our society. With privilege comes responsibility and accountability. Journalists are using their privilege but neglect their responsibility and definitely their accountability to the people. Perpetuating lies and misinformation has become the fundamental roll of Australian press organisations.

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

  7. Rachel Evans

    Such utter bastardry by absolute utter bastards who care not for a society but rather an economy… their own economy! We are on a ship of fools and charletens and we are being slowly ground down to nought…

  8. Greg

    these are exerts from other reports I have collected in the last few days from universities , charity and other professional organizations that have produced full non bias reports

    WA Greens senator Rachel Siewert, who opposes the trials, said the crime statistics indicated a significant increase in robbery and threatening behaviour in Kununurra since the card was introduced.
    “For those managing on a shoestring budget, the card makes life more difficult, and those struggling with addiction will find ways around it,” she said.

    Save the Children spokesperson in the Kimberley Juan Larranga says clear evidence from his staff working night patrols in the Kununurra show problems with the CDC:“Our night patrol staff report that they see kids begging for food as a result because there is not enough food in the house.”42

    ConclusionWe reiterate the concerns stated above to assert that the CDC trials should be immediately abandoned in favour of comprehensive and strengths-based social security support for marginalised income support recipients. We strongly recommend the rejection of both this Bill and of compulsory income management regimes in Australia on the grounds that: •Compulsory income management in the form of the Cashless Debit Card does not achieve the results claimed, and •The distress, shame and hardship it causes to people (disproportionately Indigenous peoples acrosscurrent trial sites), is based on a false assumption that stripping people of autonomy and dignity will solve serious health and social issues. •The application of compulsory income management is in violation of both human and consumer rights.

    12Minderoo Foundation36, whose founder Andrew Forrest has been a staunch supporter of the CDC, having been one of the earliest and most vocal proponents of cashless welfare. In late 2017, the Minderoo Foundation presented a report37to the Minister for Human Services-the Hon Alan Tudge MP-containing 11 recommendations to facilitate the further expansion of the CDC program of income management38. Features of the Technology Report’s influence on the present Bill include the push for point-of-sale blocking techniques to restrict ‘illegitimate’ cardholder transactions39. Silencing of Dissenting VoicesAcross existing trial sites there have been widespread critiques, condemnation and concern expressed by community members and concerned non-government welfare agencies. In Ceduna, local resident Jocelyn Wighton who is on the debit card has spoken out publicly: “The evaluation shows a decrease in alcohol, drugs and gambling but it doesn’t cover that most of us put on the card weren’t over-consumers of those things…While some stakeholders say people’s shopping has improved …82% of people said there was no difference of how they shop…. [Wighton] expressed concern about …domestic violence and crime in the community from the ongoing use of the scheme: ‘I know the cycle and used to work with Centacare, there’s a cycle of domestic violence -giving people less money makes people more needy, more desperate and leads to more crime.”40The Western Australia Council of Social Services chiefLouise Giolitto said trials of the card had shown mixed results:“What you are finding is that people who have got addictions, alcohol addictions, they’ll sell the cards that maybe are worth $200 for $100 and they are leaving themselves with a lot less cash…There’s also some really horrendous stories of young people and children selling themselves or prostituting themselves for money….There’s a lot of things that actually go underground and become hidden because of putting people on a cashless welfare card…There’s an assumption placed around it that if you need income support, we take away your autonomy and a level of your dignity and there’s an automatic assumption you can’t manageyour own money.”41

    I have over 1/2 dozen more full reports that say basically the same thing , I have read the parliamentary hansard statements from the coalition members , not only are they misrepresenting the true facts to parliament but are lying out right in parliament as they have seen the same reports I have , I have also sent these to Jacqui Lambie so if she votes for the card in a few days time then we know exactly how useless she is

  9. roma guerin

    I am losing sleep over this. Sen. Lambie is once again going to be the crucial vote. I just don’t understand how she thinks. If the Bill is passed, it is estimated that it can bring all social security recipients into the fold in 12 months. Stroke of the pen stuff. And that means me! After managing since 1978, counting every cent, I was finally able to buy new shoes when Mr Rudd gave us a $60 a fortnight rise. I now pre-pay everything possible, every pension day, so I know exactly how much is left for essential shopping, and record it on a spreadsheet. I am 79. I am too old to beg.

  10. DrakeN

    “Sen. Lambie is once again going to be the crucial vote. I just don’t understand how she thinks.”

    Simplistically and superficially if her actions are the measure of her intellect.

  11. Matters Not

    Perhaps, Jacqui Lambie is actually quite representative (as in typical of a class, group, or body of opinion) of many Australians. And that ‘fact’ is at the heart of the problem for many on this site?

    Jacqui is both a representative and also representative?

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