Hard working Australians don’t expect their tax dollars to be used to fund the drug habits of welfare recipients. We need to ensure the welfare system provides strong incentives for people to tackle any barriers they have to looking for work and taking a job when it is available.
This will ensure people with substance abuse issues are getting the help they need and that people have confidence their taxes aren’t being used to fund illegal lifestyles.
Under the announced trial, from January 1, 2018, 5,000 new recipients of Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance (other) will be selected for random drug testing.
Job seekers who test positive will immediately be placed on welfare quarantining and required to undergo further drug testing to help curb the devastating effects of drug addiction on themselves, their families and the community. If the jobseeker is determined by a medical professional to have a serious substance dependence issue, treatment plans may form part of their mutual obligations.
The three trial sites are yet to be determined, and we will consult with relevant communities before finalising the exact locations. The locations will also inform the specific type of welfare quarantining that is ultimately used.
We have seen the success of the Cashless Debit Card trials being operated in Ceduna and the East Kimberley and the Cashless Debit Card is one option we will consider closely.
The mechanism we ultimately choose will be the one that provides the best form of assistance for people in the relevant communities that need help addressing their substance abuse issues.
This two-year trial of random drug tests will be a condition of receiving a welfare payment and jobseekers who are selected for a test and refuse to take it will lose access to welfare.
Drug testing will coincide with Department of Human Services appointments and will be administered by a contracted third-party provider. Tests will largely be by saliva testing, similar to that used by roadside police, but could include hair follicle and urine testing. Drugs covered by the test include ecstasy, marijuana and methamphetamines.