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Senate sits in Logan to discuss drug testing of welfare recipients

Published: 24 April 2018

Senate sits in Logan to discuss drug testing of welfare recipients

Logan will have a chance to lead the discussion on the federal government’s plans to introduce drug testing for welfare recipients at a senate committee hearing to be held in Logan today (April 24).

City of Logan Deputy Mayor Cr Cherie Dalley welcomed the move to include Logan in the discussion after Council and other key community stakeholders expressed frustration at not being consulted when the city, along with Mandurah (WA) and Canterbury-Bankston (NSW), were selected as trial sites last year.

The Senate Community Affairs Committee public hearing will be held at the Logan City Council Administrative Centre.

“We were blindsided when Logan was named as a trial site in August and since then we have advocated strongly for the federal government to suspend introducing this legislation pending proper consultation with us, the community, and health experts,” Cr Dalley said.

“We agree that drug abuse and addiction are a national problem which needs serious solutions to address the entirety of the problem.

“Many social issues exist alongside substance abuse such as poor mental health, domestic violence, unemployment and crime, so we welcome the Federal Government’s involvement in solving these major challenges. However we believe that what is needed are holistic wrap-around services to support these people found to be in need of assistance.

“Focusing on one issue in isolation of the others does not work. We believe an integrated case management approach is needed where each individual receives the support they need from a range of service providers in the areas of holistic family support services, employment services, access to housing, mental health care, drug and alcohol support and life skills.

“We’ve lobbied hard for the Logan experts in these fields to have a seat the table so we can have our voices heard.

“Having the Senate Committee public hearing here in Logan helps give us a voice and we’re appreciative of the opportunity.”

Cr Dalley said Council representatives had met with Federal Ministers and other representatives in Canberra last year to advocate Logan’s position on the proposed trials.

She said Council’s concerns regarding the trials in the format in which they were initially announced were based on the feedback of experts.

“At previous Senate hearings, strong concerns were raised by medical experts and those working in the sector regarding many elements of the proposed trials,” she said.

“One of the concerns raised was around the lack of resources, long waiting lists and the extremely high level of unmet demand for treatment services Australia-wide.

“By having public hearings in here in Logan, we’re hopeful those professionals who know the issues – and the area – can help influence changes to address these concerns, and ensure that any drug testing pilot is delivered in a way that effectively addresses addiction issues.”

As part of the announcement last year, the federal government committed to providing a $10 million contribution toward treatment support services for drug testing trial locations, subject to the passage of legislation.

The trial was initially proposed to start on January 1, 2018, however, it was removed from social welfare legislation introduced to Federal Parliament in December last year due to a lack of Senate support.

Public hearings are broadcast live on the Internet.