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9 Oct. 2019

Alcohol and Other Drug Peaks Network: Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing Trial) Bill 2019

Submission to the Standing Committee on Community Affairs: Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing Trial) Bill 2019. September 2019 

 

 

The State and Territory Alcohol and Other Drug Peaks Network opposes the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing Trial) Bill 2019 for a range of reasons, the foremost of which is that the measure:

• has no supporting evidence to indicate it will be effective in decreasing drug use, increasing employment, or increasing access to treatments;
• contributes to the existing high-levels of stigma and discrimination experienced by Australians with alcohol and other drug substance use issues;
• ignores expert advice (and opposition) from within the medical community and AOD NGO sector that it will not only be ineffective, but actively detrimental;
• is likely to have dire social and clinical consequences for an already severely marginalised and stigmatised group;
• risks leaving participants whose welfare payments are sanctioned without the means to pay for their basic needs;
• fails to account for the structural obstructions to employment, not least of which is job availability;
• misunderstands the nature of drug use and dependence and fails to recognise that problematic substance use is a health issue (and one that commonly co-occurs with a range of other health and social issues);
• is unfairly punitive and raises concerns around privacy, moral ethics, discrimination, and human rights infringements; and
• actively works against the Australian Government’s own National Drug Strategy 2017-2026. 

AADANT is a member of the State and Territory Alcohol and Other Drug Peaks Network.

It is the position of the State and Territory Alcohol and Other Drug Peaks Network that if this trial were to go ahead it would risk substantial financial, emotional, and physical damage to a segment of the community already experiencing the burden of unemployment and likely poverty, combined with a greater rate of ill health, and psychological and social disadvantage.

The advancement of this amendment bill would escalate existing discrimination, stigma and negative perceptions around drug users - increasing their burden of social, health, and economic disadvantage, and reducing their chances of successful treatment moving forward.

It is also the belief of the State and Territory Alcohol and Other Drug Peaks Network that if the drug-testing trial outlined in this Bill were to proceed it would serve to stretch already stressed existing AOD treatment resources and staffing levels, and would ultimately deny or significantly delay treatment for people who voluntarily attempt to access AOD treatment options. 

To read the entire submission from the State and Territory Alcohol and Other Drug Peaks Network, please click here.