• Malcolm Turnbull has breakfast with Yarkala Anangu School Students on Monday. (Twitter)Source: Twitter
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is touring some of the nation's most remote Aboriginal communities in South Australia and seeing the effects of his Government's policies.
Myles Morgan

1 Nov 2016 - 3:36 PM  UPDATED 1 Nov 2016 - 3:37 PM

Far from Parliament House, on the streets of Yalata, South Australia, Malcolm Turnbull has praised one Anangu community for its school attendance.

"You can see the way the community is taking responsibility for all the children - not just your own kids, or your nephews or nieces, but all of the kids , to make sure that they all get to school," Mr Turnbull says.

School attendance is not outstanding here. The latest government data shows attendance rates were about 63 per cent in 2014. But it is increasing, up 13 per cent from 2013.

Yalata Anangu School principal Bob Sim says local school-attendance officers are making daily efforts to bring the students to school.

"It's still not good enough, but we're heading in the right direction. So we want to build those good attending routines and habits in the small kids and the young kids so they keep that as a lifelong learning."

The Prime Minister says the real focus of his visit, though, is a chance to talk with local residents about the controversial, mandatory Healthy Welfare Card.

"What a great, inspiring way of taking responsibility for your own community, addressing in a clear-eyed way the challenges that you face," he says.

The region is undergoing a 12-month trial of the card, which quarantines 80 per cent of welfare payments to all recipients in the area. Holders cannot use their cards to buy alcohol or to gamble. The remaining 20 per cent can be spent as cash.

But not everyone agrees with the Prime Minister.

The National Congress of Australia's First People's, Rod Little, says communities may have benefited more from alcohol-management programs.

"It's not necessary to have a card if you can work with community to introduce solutions that they might see as better than rolling out a card."

He believes the welfare card would not be needed if welfare itself, and its root causes, were eliminated.

"What does it cost to introduce this and administer a card, as opposed to finding proper programs to build the capacity of individuals to hold down a job, especially if they haven't had a job for a very long time?," he asks.

Yalata elder Mima Smart says many locals wanted the Healthy Welfare Card, but she says it is not necessarily welcomed by all.

"There are a lot of people (who) are still concerned about the cards, because it was only for this year. A lot of people are saying they're going to push it for another couple of years and it's not been told to this community."

Labor cautiously supported the three nationwide trial sites through parliament, but the Greens say it is discriminatory, arguing that strengthening frontline alcohol programs is better in the long run.

But Malcolm Turnbull says it is unfair to judge the card only halfway into its 12-month trial.

"I've got no doubt that there'll be learnings from the trial and refinements will follow. That's the whole point."

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