Drug test to di­vert only 10-15

Southern Telegraph - - Front Page - Phoebe Wearne

Fed­eral Govern­ment plans to test hun­dreds of new wel­fare re­cip­i­ents for drugs in the unemployment hotspot of Man­durah are ex­pected to di­vert no more than 15 peo­ple to treat­ment.

Painted as a “tough love” ap­proach to get­ting peo­ple off drugs and into the work­force, the two-year test­ing of 5000 New­start and Youth Al­lowance re­cip­i­ents is a sig­na­ture Bud­get mea­sure cham­pi­oned by Prime Min­is­ter Malcolm Turn­bull.

Man­durah was se­lected as the third and fi­nal location for the tri­als, which are due to be­gin on Jan­uary 1.

If the di­vi­sive pro­posal passes the Se­nate, about 750 peo­ple in the City of Man­durah will be tested for cannabis, ec­stasy, MDMA, metham­phetamine and opi­ates.

Wel­fare re­cip­i­ents who test pos­i­tive once will be put on in­come man­age­ment and those who fail a sec­ond test will be re­ferred to a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional for treat­ment.

The re­di­rect­ion of ad­dicts to med­i­cal ser­vices has been less con­tro­ver­sial than other parts of the pol­icy, but Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices of­fi­cials have re­vealed only 10 to 15 par­tic­i­pants in Man­durah are ex­pected to fail two drug tests dur­ing the trial.

About 50 to 60 wel­fare re­cip­i­ents are ex­pected to test pos­i­tive once and be forced on to in­come man­age­ment.

Ap­pear­ing at a Se­nate es­ti­mates hear­ing in Can­berra yes­ter­day, the of­fi­cials re­fused to pro­vide the es­ti­mated cost of the tri­als in Man­durah, Can­ter­bury-Bankstown and Lo­gan be­cause it was “com­mer­cial in con­fi­dence”.

Queens­land Sen­a­tor Mur­ray Watt said the trial was go­ing to cost “well above $10 mil­lion”.

The Govern­ment is con­sid­er­ing shelv­ing leg­is­la­tion for the drug test­ing af­ter op­po­si­tion from Se­nate cross­benchers.

So­cial Ser­vices Min­is­ter Chris­tian Porter said the Govern­ment had been “very clear from the be­gin­ning” that it did not ex­pect large num­bers of job­seek­ers to test pos­i­tive for drugs dur­ing the trial.

“This is be­cause the first ob­jec­tive is to have peo­ple change their be­hav­iour and avoid drug use when they’re look­ing for work,” Mr Porter said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.