Drug testing gambit makes pawns of people accessing income support

The Morrison Government has today announced their plan to reintroduce the mandatory drug testing bill into federal parliament next week for people accessing income support, taking particular aim at the Logan community.

If the bill is passed, Logan has been highlighted as one of the three sites across the country where new recipients will face random drug tests. This is despite the fact that there is no evidence of a causal link between people receiving this benefit and those with drug problems.

QCOSS does not support this approach because addressing complex health and social issues, like substance use problems, through the welfare system is fundamentally flawed.

QCOSS CEO Mark Henley says the bill, which has stalled twice in the Senate before, demonises people accessing income support.

“We are calling on politicians and decision makers to abandon their attempts to introduce drug testing trials for people accessing income support, which wrongly presume problematic substance use is widespread among people accessing income support,” Mr Henley says.

“We support evidence-based employment programs and evidence-based, clinical and community-based approaches to addressing the public health issue of problematic substance use.”

Mr Henley says mandatory drug testing trails further stigmatise people needing to access the income support system.

“Evidence shows that income support is a vital safety net, both for those unable to work and for many who sometimes need help to get back on their feet,” Mr Henley says.

“The evidence does not, however, support claims of a high incidence of longer-term ‘dependency’ for people accessing income support, nor does it show that drug dependency and receiving income support go hand in hand.

“We believe that any changes to our social safety-net must be evidence based and support wellbeing.  We believe that the income support system can be run fairly and efficiently.

“And we believe this is possible without harsh and counter-productive compliance regimes whether that be drug testing, the cashless debit card, or the RoboDebt scheme.

“Evidence supports that treating people humanely and with dignity has a positive impact on the whole community.”

View the updated version of the QCOSS Position Statement -Drug Testing Trials here.

For 60 years, QCOSS has been a leading force for social change. Our vision is to achieve equality, opportunity and wellbeing for every person, in every community.

We believe that every person in Queensland – regardless of where they come from, who they pray to, their gender, who they love, how or where they live – deserves to live a life of equality, opportunity and wellbeing.

Media contact

6 September 2019 |Focus area: |Domain: , |Service type: |Location: , ,