COMMUNITY OPINIONS | Welfare drug-testing proposal

The latest government proposal to have welfare recipients drug-tested in Bankstown had opinions divided from around Sydney. So what does Liverpool think if this was to be rolled out into other areas, including Liverpool?

Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

MAYOR WENDY WALLER

“Instead of drug testing, I believe we should be offering more support and medical services to assist people to withdraw from drugs. Drug abuse affects everyone in a family. Withdrawing financial assistance will punish not just the individual but their support network as well.”  

COUNCILLOR CHARISHMA KALIYANDA 

“My opinion is from my background as an occupational health therapist and research shows stigmitising people doesn't help and leads to other problems.

“My concern about this is it could cause health issues to be stigmatised and you’re not encouraging the drug addicted to get the assistance they need, so it might further entrench the problem.

“I’ve heard reports of people thinking that it could increase crime and you could see that potentially happening as well. At the end of the day, it doesn't serve the broader needs of the community.”

Picture: Luke Fuda

Picture: Luke Fuda

FORMER LIVERPOOL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRESIDENT HARRY HUNT

“You know, 12 to 18 months ago there were proposals for another clinic in Liverpool for those with drug addiction – where people using drugs could go there and use it safely.

“In Liverpool we already have the methadone clinic and the hospital treating people for drugs. We don’t need something similar in Liverpool for this cause – I think it would be detrimental to the image we’re trying to build, especially with the airport.” 

Vincent Ogu and his wife.

Vincent Ogu and his wife.

WESTERN SYDNEY MIGRANT RESOURCE CENTRE CHAIRMAN AND LIVERPOOL LOCAL VINCENT OGU 

“I have concerns on the assumptions and possible fallacies behind the proposal for welfare recipients to undergo drug testing. If the problem is about illicit drug-use and drug-related offenses, then this neither hits the heart of the problem nor the cause.

 “The purported merits of the proposal should be carefully and thoughtfully weighed against the shortcomings, including potential stigmatising a disadvantaged population. The resemblance of this trial to socio-economic profiling, ethnic profiling and geographic profiling are all counterproductive.

 “The impact on self-esteem and motivations in life for, I believe, a great majority of welfare recipients in the Liverpool and surrounding areas that put the payments to good use need to considered. There could certainly be better options to check excesses of a small minority of people who probably needed to be assisted to do the right thing.

“Organisations such as the Western Sydney MRC and human services organisations and the community need to be engaged with for workable, implementable real world solutions. Drug addiction and drug rehabilitation especially amongst Sydney’s young deserve a better approach not a punitive one.”

LIVERPOOL AND FAIRFIELD COMMUNITY RADIO CHAIRMAN CHRISTOPHER SPARROW 

“I believe they should carry out drug-testing to be entitled to welfare payments. It’s a great idea – it would help them better plan their finances then have their money spent on the wrong things.

“ think it could help to stop drug addiction which is a big issue in the community. It’s definitely an issue that needs to be looked into and more support needs to be offered to those suffering from addiction. This just might help them to seek assistance.”

ST VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY

”The St Vincent de Paul Society has condemned the federal Government’s proposal to drug-test income support recipients as a punitive, ideologically-driven measure that will demean and marginalise people who are already struggling.”