Sunday, September 25, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Addiction treatment services are raising the alarm about a proposal to penalise welfare beneficiaries who refuse to undergo drug tests or addiction treatment.
The proposal, by the Government's Welfare Working Group led by economist Paula Rebstock, aims to tackle drug and alcohol addictions as one of the main barriers keeping many beneficiaries out of paid work.
Thousands of young people, in particular, are being shut of of jobs because they are failing - or avoiding - drug tests.
But the NZ Drug Foundation says the proposal to chop people's benefits if they don't undergo drug tests or treatment is "driven by ideology" and "not supported by the scientific evidence".
"Benefit sanctions will not have the intended effect of encouraging all dependent users into treatment," it says in a stinging 12-page critique.
"Rather, it will leave many of them with exceptionally low or no income - a situation that undermines their likelihood for successful treatment."
The proposal is shaping up as a key election issue. Although the National Government has yet to announce its decisions on most of the Rebstock proposals, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett backs drug testing.