Government announces $10 million funding under Mandurah Newstart drug testing trial

MP Andrew Hastie (Federal Member for Canning).
MP Andrew Hastie (Federal Member for Canning).

CANNING MHR Andrew Hastie has announced $10 million treatment funding attached to the Drug Testing Trial in Mandurah.

Mr Hastie said the Turnbull Government was determined to introduce a drug testing trial to help residents get the help they need to get off drugs and into work.

Social Services Minister Dan Tehan was in Mandurah this morning with Mr Hastie today to announce additional treatment available through the Federal Government’s $10m drug treatment fund.

Under the trial, 5000 new recipients of Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance (other) would be tested over a two-year trial period across three locations: Mandurah, Logan (Queensland) and Canterbury-Bankstown (NSW).

The additional $10 million in funding would provide:

– $1 million for case management services for people who test positive more than once under the trial

– $3 million to boost drug treatment capacity in the three trial sites, and

– $6 million for additional accredited treatment support, in the event State or Commonwealth-funded services cannot be accessed in a timely manner.

Mr Tehan said the Government had recently re-introduced its drug testing trial legislation into the Parliament and called on Labor and the crossbench to support it.

When the drug testing trial was first announced last year, Mandurah MLA David Templeman said he was concerned the trial could lead to increased crime and homelessness.

“Unfortunately, removing welfare payments from people will hit children the hardest, as they are the ones who will be the most vulnerable,’’ he said.

“What we need in Mandurah is jobs and investment in the future.”

Mr Templeman said Mandurah was a magnificent community that did not need any more negative labels, implied by the drug trial.

“Its time to stand up for Mandurah and promote the overwhelming number of positive attributes we have rather than focusing on a negative few,” he said.

Mr Tehan said the best thing the government could do was help someone off welfare and into work.

“The drug testing trial is about helping people to help themselves get a job,” he said.

“Doing nothing is no longer an option.

“Doing nothing is not helping Australians to address a drug problem and get off welfare and into work.”

Mr Hastie said the trial had great potential for Mandurah.

“Newstart and Youth Allowance are designed to help people while they look for work,” he said.

“But if people are struggling with drug abuse, their chances of getting hired and holding a job are much lower.

“The drug testing will identify those people who need help, and the treatment fund will make sure those people have the resources they need to get drug free and job ready.

“No one will lose their welfare out of this program, no one will be worse off if they do the right thing.

“But if you refuse to take a drug test, you’ll find yourself in trouble.

“That’s no different to many jobs.

“This is a very reasonable expectation, especially as many Australians support job seekers on welfare through their taxes.”

The number of income support recipients in WA who tried to claim drug or alcohol use as an excuse for not meeting their mutual obligations increased by 475 per cent over five years, with 1075 applications submitted in 2017.

The statisitcs

– 73 per cent of voters support drug testing welfare recipients (Newspoll, October 26-29, 2017)

– Meth/amphetamine use was 3.1 times higher among unemployed people than employed (AIHW National Drug Strategy Household Survey)

– 23.6 per cent of the unemployed people surveyed were recent users of illicit drugs