Wel­fare drug trial at­tacked

Mandurah Coastal Times - - OPINION -

SIX or­gan­i­sa­tions have at­tacked the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal to in­tro­duce manda­tory drug test­ing for those on in­come sup­port.

Man­durah would be one of three venues in Aus­tralia to be used for the trial.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions Shel­ter, Anti-Poverty Net­work of WA, the WA Coun­cil of So­cial Ser­vice, the Women’s Coun­cil for Do­mes­tic and Fam­ily Vi­o­lence Ser­vices, the Youth Af­fairs Coun­cil of WA and Fi­nan­cial Coun­sel­lors As­so­ci­a­tion of WA is­sued a joint state­ment against the trial.

A spokesman said ev­i­dence from around the world demon­strated the costly and in­ef­fec­tive pol­icy would make life more dif­fi­cult for those on in­come sup­port and peo­ple strug­gling with ad­dic­tion, and called on the State Gov­ern­ment to refuse to co-op­er­ate with the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment should the scheme go ahead.

The pro­posal has also raised con­cern among City of Man­durah coun­cil­lors.

The coun­cil plans to urge the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to fo­cus on the re­gion’s top pri­or­ity of cre­at­ing jobs rather than the trial.

At a spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing last week, coun­cil­lors stressed its pri­or­ity was cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment.

Rather than Man­durah be­ing used as a trial site, the coun­cil voted to sup­port com­mu­nity-based ini­tia­tives to re­duce drug use, sub­ject to con­sul­ta­tion with the com­mu­nity, and the de­vel­op­ment of a treat­ment path­way in con­junc­tion with a lo­cal provider.

The coun­cil was con­cerned there had been no con­sul­ta­tion be­fore the an­nounce­ment.

Coun­cil­lor Fred Riebel­ing said the trial had the po­ten­tial to in­crease the crime rate and had lit­tle chance of suc­cess.

He claimed the trial an­nounce­ment had de­monised the un­em­ployed and in­ferred they were all drug users.

“The im­age of Man­durah was trashed as the only place with a drug prob­lem,’’ he said.

“I ac­knowl­edge the prob­lem but our prod­uct, that has taken years and years to cul­ti­vate, has been dam­aged.

“This area does have a prob­lem but there is no proof that it is worse than any­where else.

Mayor Ma­rina Ver­gone said there was no in­for­ma­tion about the treat­ment process and sup­port ser­vices avail­able should an in­di­vid­ual be re­ferred for treat­ment.

She said it was a con­cern that Man­durah had been sin­gled out and its rep­u­ta­tion dam­aged.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark New­man said the City was not happy with the trial an­nounce­ment but un­der­stood it was only a trial.

“We have not said we are against it,’’ he said.

“At least it’s a step in the right di­rec­tion.”

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