Drug testing trials to help welfare recipients become job ready

The Morrison Government will introduce legislation to trial drug testing for new welfare recipients as part of our commitment to remove barriers to employment.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said job seekers struggling with substance abuse issues would benefit from the trial as its primary focus was to help people access support services through a $10 million Treatment Fund.

“People on welfare who take drugs are denying themselves the best opportunity to take advantage of the jobs we are creating,” Minister Ruston said.

“That’s why the Morrison Government is trialling reforms to the welfare system to ensure that we can identify and encourage people with substance abuse issues to get treatment, rehabilitate and make them job ready.

“This is about identifying people who need our help. Once identified we will be able to assist people pursue treatment to address their substance abuse issues through a $10 million Treatment Fund.”

The Treatment Fund will boost drug rehabilitation and support service capacity in trial sites.

The two-year Drug Testing Trial will be rolled out in three locations: Logan in Queensland, Canterbury-Bankstown in New South Wales and Mandurah in Western Australia.

It will test 5000 new recipients of Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance (other) for illicit substances including ice (methamphetamine), ecstasy (MDMA) and marijuana (THC), cocaine and heroin.

Welfare recipients who test positive will be placed on Income Management for a period of 24 months or the duration of the trial where 80 per cent of their welfare payment will be quarantined to prevent the money being spent on drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and gambling products.

A second drug test will be scheduled within 25 working days of the initial positive result. After a second positive test, the job seeker will be referred to a medical professional who will assess their circumstances and identify treatment options.