Support for drug-test trial
A former Albany resident contacted the Albany Advertiser to share his story of growing up with a drug-addicted mother and voice his support for the Federal Government’s proposed drug-testing policy for welfare recipients.
During his Budget speech, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison announced plans to trial drug testing for welfare recipients in a bid to direct people into rehabilitation and onto a cashless welfare card.
This is an edited extract of the former resident’s story
My mother lost custody of me when I was very young due to neglect. The story went that she’d often be too busy getting high with her friends and so I was largely left unattended and suffered second degree burns to most of my back due to sun exposure. I also had cigarette butts put out on my nose.
At age seven, I had cancers removed from my back. They were benign, yet I still have frequent check-ups where I try my hardest to pretend I’m not a ticking timebomb while in the waiting room.
My little brother, from a different father, made his first crudely attempted bong at age five. I was about 15 at this time. I later learned my mother was earning a little under $1000 a week by herself as a single parent with two children, while also siphoning off the majority of my Youth Allowance, without ever having to pay taxes or really ever lift a finger except to light up another cigarette or sell drugs on the side for some extra cash income.
Don’t get me wrong, there was always food on the table as she qualified for concession rates for most things.
I ran away from home at 16, obtained my high school diploma by myself, then studied diplomas at TAFE for a few years and entered the workforce.
This story isn’t all roses on my part. I never went to work while high — it was always recreationally during my own time and eventually I stopped selling drugs on the side.
Eventually, I stopped doing any drugs, cigarettes and booze and recently bought a vacant block of land to build my own house on.
I wish they had introduced drug testing for the dole a long time ago.
I feel that my future avenues would’ve opened up to me a lot quicker.
I’d have less health problems than I do now and quite possibly be a lot further ahead in life than I already am.
My point in all of this is that nothing is perfect and the dole is a safety net, not a way of life, so anyone who abuses it should have their access to it controlled or limited.
The Centrelink branch in Albany.