Decision to press ahead with welfare drug trial ill-conceived and ill-informed



Anglicare Victoria has slammed the Federal Government’s decision to press ahead with a trial of drug testing welfare recipients as part of its welfare reforms.

The Federal Government today announced it is going ahead with a trial in Canterbury-Bankstown in Sydney, ahead of the findings of a Senate committee which is expected to report on 4 September. Chief executive officer Paul McDonald said the plan to test unemployed youth was ill-informed and ill-conceived.

“The welfare crackdown will hurt people already struggling against a massive increase in energy bills and a rental affordability crisis,’’ he said.

“The proposed drug tests and other welfare reforms have deeply concerned those at the coalface of welfare distress.

“The drug tests, combined with a proposed new demerit point system and increased obligations to look for work that isn’t there are cruel and ill-conceived. These policies have a harshness that is not appropriate for a prosperous, generous society like Australia.

“The Government has offered no evidence that their drug testing plan has worked anywhere in the world and failed to say how much these changes will cost and save.

“Given the long waiting lists and lack of treatment beds for even the severest addictions, it is unlikely that people will be able to get the treatment they need or for that matter justify a treatment response, if found positive in the testing.

“It is a wrong-headed, punitive approach to both income compliance and drug rehabilitation. “The measure risks turning more people to homelessness, poverty and possibly crime when people are denied welfare payments even for short periods.’’

Read more about Paul McDonald’s views on the Federal Government’s welfare crackdown at Drug tests add to winter of welfare discontent.


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