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Byron Shire
January 29, 2022

Drug testing to create new trash underclass?

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Dorothy Mullins, Byron Bay

Dear editor

Random drug testing for welfare recipients? This pearl from Budget 2017 makes the brain spin it raises so many questions: basic human rights; does treatment follow a ‘fail’; how does a failed person survive, turn to crime; how will it improve job-seeking; will more people be employed given the number of jobs available; it is punitive and divisive, is it simply inspired by mean-spiritedness; is it just a sneaky way to reduce welfare costs; or is it just a cruel political ‘throw-away’ to appears the mad right wing; isn’t drug and alcohol addiction a health issue? And, most of all, where is the compassion?

ACCOSS tells us there are 10 unemployed people for every job. It beggars belief therefore, how drug testing is going to force more unemployed into jobs that aren’t there.

There is no sign of any health concerns for the people who fail the test, no more money for treatment and a scarcity of rehab places. Mental health issues could also play a part in some under-employment and addiction and there doesn’t seem to be any concern about this, the added burden of having no money, or the cumulative effect on families. What happens to the children?

We could learn much from our own society and those of others. The threat of the cane and other punitive measures have been withdrawn from schools and have been shown not to be effective in improving performance. So has torture. Portugal has lead the way in succeeding to reduce drug and alcohol addiction by decriminalising drugs and taking a positive societal approach treating any problems as health issues.

It is clear that the welfare of these ‘welfare recipients’ to be drug tested is not being considered by the LNP government.

In fact, this measure appears to be a deliberate attempt to create a trash underclass of families not worthy of human rights, access to society, and most of all, not worthy of our compassion.

This is an alarming trend in the wrong direction! We should take this seriously and raise our voices. If Portugal can get it right, why can’t we?


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