• The Federal Government's welfare card has faced no shortage of criticism. (File)Source: File
A new campaign calling for more cashless welfare cards which uses a violent video as its centrepiece has been criticised for cherry picking incidents to paint a misleading picture.
Robert Burton-Bradley, Liz Deep-Jones

10 Aug 2017 - 11:56 AM  UPDATED 10 Aug 2017 - 12:06 PM

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has criticised a new video campaign showing graphic depictions of violence in Indigenous communities as shock tactics designed to scare the Federal Government into rolling out more cashless welfare cards in remote Western Australia.

Mining magnate Andrew Forrest and local leaders from the East Kimberley region, yesterday launched #timetoact an online anti-violence campaign in the nation's capital. It features a video that shows disturbing scene of violence.

“Using violent imagery then offering a one-dimensional, paternalistic and previously failed approach to a complex problem shows that Andrew Forrest is more concerned about furthering his ideologies than looking at what works," Senator Siewert said today.

“I share concerns about disadvantage and agree we need to be addressing severe disadvantage in communities like Port Hedland. We need a multifaceted approach including addressing alcohol supply, drug and alcohol services, and wrap around services driven by the community."

Mr Forrest was joined yesterday by Jean O'Reerie, Aboriginal Education Worker from Wyndham in East Kimberley- a Cashless Debit Card trial site, her colleague, local Bianca Crake, and the Mayor of Port Hedland, Mr Camillo Blanko.

Mr Forrest claims that the government's current system to stop drug and alcohol fuelled violence against children in the Pilbara and East Kimberley region isn't working.

Linking what he described as horrific child abuse to alcohol and drug use, Mr Forrest is pushing for the Cashless Welfare Card to be introduced into more West Australian communities.

"Elders of communities, mayors of major towns are standing up and saying enough is enough. We need the system to change. What we have had is not enough. It's delivering our children into hell and they have to be protected," he told a media conference yesterday.

Mr Forrest yesterday brough elders and civic leaders, from Western Australia and South Australia, to meet personally with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the leader of the opposition Bill Shorten and his deputy leader Tanya Plibersek.

Figures from the West Australian Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan's department claimed that one in three children are being abused, in a town of 500 children - 158 were sexually assaulted, 36 men face 300 charges of child abuse and in another town six children committed suicide in six months. It was not specified whether the children affected were Indigenous or Non- Indigenous.

Jean O'Reerie an Aboriginal Education Worker from Wyndham in the East Kimberley was emotional as she described the situation in her community.

"We need help, we need the government to intervene and help us out as community leaders. We can't do it on our own. We need change for our community, our kids are hurting," she said.

"We, the grassroots people, live with it every day. The hurt, the suffering, and the abuse."

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Mr Forrest also wants Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten to meet elders and civic leaders, who have also witnessed the reduction of drug and alcohol use as a direct result of the Cashless Debit Card trials.

Bianca Crake a local business owner from Wyndham is a supporter of the Cashless Debit Card.

"It is working in the East Kimberlys We've got fathers that have got children, taking their children to supermarkets and spending their money. They would never do that before this card came out."

Port Hedland mayor Camillo Blanko is urging the government to step in, claiming the situation is out of control.

"It's quite clear that there are significant issues, domestic violence and sexual assaults happening within the Pilbara region, this is not just isolated to one area," he told the media yesterday.

"It's happening across WA as well and I know it's happening and I'm not prepared to sit silent while this is going on."

"We need to do something about it. We need to act now. We've had a lot of information given to us and report after reports being done and still in 2017 hundreds of kids are being sexually assaulted, domestic violence is out of control, alcohol abuse is not being reigned in and the government needs to intervene."

Ms Siewert said that more welfare card roll outs was not the answer to the problem sin some communities.

“I agree we do need to be investing in communities but in approaches that work," she said.

"The Government invested over $1.2 billion in the NT Intervention which met none of its objectives. We should stop wasting money on income management style approaches and start looking at real solutions that work”.

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