Australian welfare recipients to be subject to drug tests

Source: Xinhua| 2018-05-08 11:02:07|Editor: Chengcheng
Video PlayerClose

CANBERRA, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Recipients of welfare benefits in Australia will soon be tested for drugs, after a senate inquiry backed the federal government's controversial proposal.

The government will push ahead with trial drug-testing of about 5,000 welfare recipients in order to lower substance-abuse levels among this group - and help them find jobs.

The trial will concentrate on three areas: Logan, in the Queensland's southeast, Canterbury-Bankstown, a suburb in the southwest of Sydney, and Mandurah in Western Australia.

Those recipients who fail a test will be subject to an income management plan for 24 months, meaning 80 percent of their benefits are set aside and can only be spent on certain nominated items.

A referral for further treatment will be given to residents who fail a second drug-test, and failure to comply will result in the loss of all government benefits.

"The committee considers that a limited... drug-testing trial should be conducted in the welfare context to test whether substance abuse issues are causing a barrier to employment for trial participants," the report, which was released on Monday afternoon, said.

The opposition said the proposed trial should be abandoned as it does not guarantee unemployed people will be able to find work.

The Federal Greens party also warned that the testing could drive people away from the welfare system and plunge them further into poverty.

"It was overwhelmingly rejected for good reason by Senate when it was previously proposed as part of the welfare reform bill," Greens Senator, Rachel Siewert, said in a statement on Monday.

Opposing parties have also cautioned people could turn to crime to facilitate their drug addiction if they lose welfare payments.

The government will also allocate 7.5 million U.S. dollars for drug treatment services.