The Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania has expressed its concerns regarding the Australian Government’s attempts to reintroduce a trial of drug tests for Australian welfare recipients.
While the proposed trial would not be delivered in Tasmania, ATDC chief executive Alison Lai said that the premise was highly troubling.
“The concept of requiring welfare recipients to undertake drug testing is a proposal that was presented by the Australian Government in 2017, and the national out-cry on this approach has not changed since that time,” Ms Lai said.
“The concerns raised two years ago remain the same today, including the potential impact on vulnerable families if an individual’s financial support is decreased or denied.
“There remain concerns of unintended consequences for those who may be dependent on illicit substances who may choose to use different illicit drugs that may not be detectable or turn to prescription medications, increasing their risk of harm.
“Strategies like this are believed to have the potential to push individuals into crime in order to support themselves or their families, and there are significant costs associated with administering a drug testing regime like they are proposing that could deliver the desired accuracy and reliability.
“There is also uncertainty surrounding how to protect an individual’s right to privacy, appeal processes for positive results and the use of testing results by other government departments that might impact a person’s life in other ways like child custody arrangements.
“We are concerned it will only increase the level of stigma currently attached to individuals who may be experiencing issues with substance use and also any member of the public who is receiving welfare benefits.
“Problematic alcohol and other drug use is a health issue.
“The approach being proposed is not an evidence-informed health response and it is not one that our organisation supports.”
Media Contact: Alison Lai, CEO – 0450 517 017