By Josh Bustler
Some of Australia's foremost experts on addiction have pleaded for the federal government to scrap its controversial plan to drug test welfare recipients, saying the program's negative impacts far outweigh its benefits and that it will further swamp an already struggling treatment sector.
The government announced the plan, to put 5,000 recipients of Newstart and Youth Allowance onto a trial program to screen them for drug use, in the May budget. Since then, the idea has been thoroughly rubbished by drug experts, with a swathe of evidence of similar programs overseas having very limited success, as well as proving to be expensive and ineffective.
Despite this, and Labor announcing last week it would not support the plan in parliament, the government is pushing on with the plan.
Dr Adrian Reynolds is the clinical director of alcohol and drug services for the Tasmanian Health Service and president of the chapter of addiction medicine within the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. He and Associate Professor Yvonne Bonomo, director of St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne's department of addiction medicine, visited Parliament House in Canberra to try and convince the government to scrap the plan, with the experts saying the drug testing trial would not improve drug outcomes, but actually cause further harm.
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Thumbnail Flickr CC Micah Baldwin