Federal Government skulduggery could see people on income support further stigmatised

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Yesterday the Australian Government quietly announced the reintroduction of mandatory drug testing for people accessing income support, despite the fact that there is no evidence of a causal link between people receiving this benefit and those with drug problems.

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

“Mandatory drug testing trials further stigmatise people needing to access our income support system,” said QCOSS CEO Mr Mark Henley.

“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.

“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, changes to waiting times or changing eligibility criteria for some benefits.”

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

”Ensuring the wellbeing of all in our community must be most important job of our governments.”

For more than 50 years QCOSS has been a leading force for social change to eliminate poverty and disadvantage. With members throughout Queensland, QCOSS supports a strong community service sector.


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Karen Murphy

22 June 2018