Given Uniting Communities’ long track record of providing alcohol and other drugs (AOD) treatment and support services, our AOD staff have developed a treatment framework and a detailed understanding and expertise about what is and is not effective when it comes to
working with people with substance use issues. The Uniting Communities Service Manager for Streetlink and New ROADS highlights successful treatment options and the importance of avoiding coercive and mandatory measures

“Successful treatment options to address someone’s problematic substance use must start with working to identify and support people’s motivation for change. Coercive measures that mandate people into treatment often do no work. There are already huge numbers of people willing and able to undertake treatment who cannot do so because of the existing strain on our services. Our services work to be as flexible and nimble as possible to provide service access for our clients, but the right support is not always possible at the time when people need it and are motivated to engage.”

Drug use needs to be viewed as a health concern, which may in some cases be beyond the control of the individual and is invariably the result of multiple health and socio-economic determinants. Uniting Communities opposes penalising people for their health issues through mandatory drug-testing and the mechanism of compulsory income management.

We do not support the Bill because its provisions for the mandatory and conditional drug testing of people receiving income support will result in them being placed on a punitive system of income management, for which there is insufficient evidence regarding its efficacy; could
potentially result in them further risking their health and wellbeing by trying other substances that are more difficult to detect through drug-testing; lead to a loss of agency; potentially lead to an increase in poverty, criminal activity and self-harming; and the undermining of  people’s existing rights.

Click here for the full submission

Committee:  Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing Trial) Bill 2019