UnitingCare Australia is pleased to have the opportunity of commenting on provisions of the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing Trial) Bill 2019.
UnitingCare Australia is the national office representing the community services of the Uniting Church in Australia. Our services operate nationally across more than 1,300 sites in metropolitan, rural and remote Australia, delivering services to people across the life course. The views reflected in this submission are informed by the expertise from within the Uniting Church’s community services network, particularly those focused on alcohol and other drug treatment and prevention.
We would like to reiterate concerns about the establishment of a drug testing ‘trial’ that we raised in our submission to the Senate Committee Inquiry on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017 and our submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing Trial) Bill 2018 .
We are extremely disappointed that a third Bill proposing a drug testing ‘trial’ has been introduced, despite the universal opposition of professionals with experience in the field of addiction treatment to the previous two proposals.
The claim that this ‘trial’ should proceed because it has the potential to obtain evidence, so far lacking, that compulsory drug testing can be useful in addressing addiction or unemployment, we reject as disingenuous. This ‘trial’ is not proposed merely in the absence of evidence that it is likely to succeed, but in the presence of evidence to the contrary: previous trials in New Zealand and the US indicate that the approach does not work.