No – most people who receive income support do not use illicit drugs.
Around half of Newstart recipients are aged 45 and over and, according to the 2016 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) National Drug Strategy Household Survey, have some of the lowest rates of illicit drug use.
If this trial goes ahead, most people tested will never have used hard drugs. For example, a larger percentage of unemployed people have never used any illicit drug compared to employed people (57.1% compared to 48.8%) (AIHW, National Drug Household Survey, Ch.8 Specific Population Groups, Table 8.5, Drug use by employment status ).
In fact, more employed people have recently used cocaine than unemployed people (3.8% compared to 2.4%) and the percentage of ecstasy use for both groups is the same (at 2.9%). (AIHW, National Drug Household Survey, Ch Specific Population Groups, Table 8.5, Drug use by employment status).
Methamphetamine usage is one of the major targets of the trial. While unemployed people are more likely than employed people to have recently used methamphetamine, this is less than 5% of the unemployed population. And 90% of unemployed people have never used them. While methamphetamine usage is a serious health problem, it does not indicate wide-spread wastage of income support payments on drugs.
We already know that many of the processes people need to go through to receive income support are unnecessarily onerous and deliberately difficult. This trial will add a new layer of stigma for people struggling to find employment.