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  • Tax payer says:

    are the below statements from this article contradict to each other?
    “Jobseekers testing positive for illicit substances will have 80 per cent of their payments quarantined onto a cashless welfare card, while a second positive test would see recipients referred to a rehabilitation program.”
    “It is poorly targeted and will predominantly affect new social security claimants who do not use drugs. It is a punitive measure that will push some people with no substance use issues onto a restrictive income management scheme,” Ho said.
    According to the first statement, only people who are tested positive with illicit substance will be included onto a restrictive income management scheme. So new social security claimants who do not use drugs will not be affected??

  • Andrew says:

    Drug testing welfare recipients is a ridiculous idea. As a safety coordinator who helped develop and implement alcohol and other drug (AOD) policy in the workplace, I am fully conversant with the issues, legislation, responsibilities and pitfalls involved.
    I often hear the argument that “if employees are tested then those on welfare should be as well”. This is nonsense and based on falsehoods:
    1. Most employers are small business’s and more likely to have a fridge full of beer out the back than a AOD policy.
    2. AOD testing in the workplace is random. What is being proposed for welfare recipients is not. It is based on profiling. If you did this in the workplace, your AOD policy would be thrown out the window by the nearest court of law and you would probably end up as a defendant in the Fair Work Commission.
    3. Proper AOD policy involves helping identified employees (employee assistance program or EAP), not immediately punishing them. If assistance is refused and breaches continue then disciplinary action should follow.
    4. You should not label someone an alcoholic or drug user on the basis of just one test. To do so could invite serious litigation.
    5. AOD testing is confidential. You do not force employees who fail a test to use a special card that will identify them as a drug user in public.
    6. AOD testing for jobseekers already exists in the form of pre-employment medicals. No need to reinvent the wheel. Maybe a new tyre perhaps.
    7. The perception that many people on welfare are just lazy drug users is false. The majority (more than 95%) do the right thing and are struggling. If you want evidence of this, you can do your own research using reputable sources (not the tabloids). The last thing that unemployed people need is more stigma and public vilification.
    8. Serious drug addicts fund their habit through other means such as selling drugs or committing other crimes. The rate of unemployment benefit is so low that it would barely fund a user’s habit for a couple of days. What will they do for the rest of the fortnight – go cold turkey? Cutting off their payments or shoving them on the welfare card will not help or break the cycle of addiction. It will just make things worse.
    9. AOD rehabilitation services are already overloaded and non-existent in many regional areas. Merely using Centrelink as a punishment tool will not solve the problem of drug use.
    10. Welfare drug testing is useless and will waste even more of taxpayer’s precious dollars – NZ recently spent millions of dollars testing 112,000 jobseekers on their welfare system and found only 531 or 0.47% positive results. Even the director of the NZ Drug Foundation that was responsible for overseeing these tests said that “it was an expensive waste of time”.
    Finally, while I accept that this horrible idea has a lot of public support, the majority of medical practitioners and specialists who are directly involved in AOD rehabilitation are against it for the main reason that it is not helpful at all and will only make matters worse. It is just a vote winner for the government and another form of dole bludger bashing. This nasty proposal should never see the light of day.

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