With today’s announcement that the first drug testing of welfare recipients will go ahead in Western Sydney next year, Rev Graham Long wanted to release this statement:
“Drug testing on the poor may be well-intentioned but unlikely to produce the outcomes the government wants. Drug misuse in our community extends well-beyond those receiving benefits from the government, but this policy directly targets those people. We understand that “getting tough on the poor” and “tough love” language is appealing, not just for government but in media circles and parts of the broader community. The thought being “Why should the poor get a ‘hand out’ and then waste it on drugs?” But this approach rarely brings about a transformation to health. This approach – while it may make us feel better – doesn’t start people on a road to healing.
Wayside would prefer to see the time, cost and effort that is being put into this process invested into areas that create real opportunities for people to turn their lives around. Helping people out of their situation and onto a path of health. This process only assumes the worse of people. That if you are poor, if you are homeless and if you are on benefits then you are likely to be using illicit drugs and therefore we will presume your guilt. At Wayside we don’t believe this helps people to find and become their best selves.”