The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), opposes legislation that seeks to drug test welfare recipients.
Acting Federal Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp said today: “Drug testing welfare recipients will not get people back to work. Newstart is intended to provide a safety net for those in need, who find themselves in the precarious situation of searching for employment”.
“The majority of people do not end up on welfare payments by choice. Legislating drug testing for welfare recipients will further stigmatise and be burdensome to those who are marginalised and living in poverty.”
“Addiction is a health issue and should be treated as such, not as a punitive measure to punish individuals who have hit difficult times. We don’t subject other people in receipt of government funds or those in the workforce to drug testing. Unfairly targeting welfare recipients is discriminatory and cruel and will not miraculously lead people to employment.”
“This Government should be focussing on properly funding front line services to assist people in need, to provide adequate support services, not to stigmatise, shame and divide.”
“This ill-considered legislation will be expensive and lacks sufficient evidence to suggest that it will actually get people back into work. We know that NZ, UK and Canada all abandoned policies to introduce drug testing for people on welfare.”
According to Ms Sharp, it will “do nothing to help those individuals who are currently unemployed with their health concerns or to obtain future employment and seeks to further punish those already experiencing poverty and financial stress.”
Ms Sharp said the ANMF was calling on key independent MPs and Senators to reject the Bill which is expected to be re-introduced to Parliament this week.
The ANMF, with over 275,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.