Social Sector Calls for Drug Rehabilitation Over Punishment
15 May 2017 at 5:05 pm
A peak body for Australia’s social sector has warned the government’s “punitive measures” to drug test welfare recipients is counter-intuitive and will have dire effects on already struggling community services.
In a statement released Monday, Mission Australia warned the mandatory drug testing of 5,000 new welfare recipients, and the subsequent quarantining of their income support should they test positive, could result in individuals and their families experiencing homeless.
Mission Australia executive of operations and fundraising James Toomey said the 2017 budget announcement to use coercion to tackle substance abuse “simply won’t work” and will leave individuals and their families even more vulnerable.
“Without access to welfare supports, this will place extraordinary pressure on already vulnerable families and individuals. And the consequences will be dire if they no longer have the means to maintain a roof over their head,” Toomey said.
“The impact on families and children could be severe – by cutting off their income, entire families could be pushed into further poverty and into homelessness. Already stretched community services simply won’t cope with the increased demand.”
Mission Australia is calling on the government to reconsider the proposed drug trials and instead give priority to further investing in alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs.
“For people who have fallen into a cycle of substance use, their fate rests on the availability of appropriate detoxification and rehabilitation facilities – of which there is a severe shortage,” Toomey said.
“It is difficult to find that small window of opportunity where the person struggling with addiction is stable and self-motivated to commence treatment. If a place is not found, this vital window is missed and the situation worsens.
“Coming off addictions, without quality medical support and rehabilitation can be extremely difficult and dangerous. It needs a safe place for change, without the punitive pressures of this proposed trial.”