Indigenous Affairs Minister Amanda Vanstone says
legislation would have to be changed to allow the introduction of
a so-called "smart card", replacing welfare payments for
The proposal has been put to the Minister
by acting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC)
chairman, Lionel Quartermaine.
He believes living conditions for
Aboriginal children could be improved if the card was used to buy
food and other essentials, but not alcohol.
Senator Vanstone says
the idea has merit but she is keen to explore less complex solutions.
"People are paid once they've met certain
criteria they're entitled to welfare, and there is no entitlement
for ministers or others at whim to allocate the money in a particular
way," she said, "You would need legislative approval."
Quartermaine says he is pleased the issue of child neglect is now
higher on the community's agenda.
He says he hopes the minister will
sit down with ATSIC to move the issue forward.
"I set out to achieve something and I believe
I've achieved it, I think that everyone in Australia and our society
are now taking neglected children seriously," he said.
"Because we can no longer put our heads in
the sand and ignore our children, white or black ... and it's serious."