Drug users on welfare won't be dobbed into police

Sam Hussey

Welfare recipients who test positive to drugs will not be dobbed into police even if that means they walk out of Centrelink, hop into their car and drive away.

One of the most contentious changes to emerge from the Turnbull Government’s federal budget, welfare recipients now face random drug testing if they wish to continue receiving government assistance.

However it has now been confirmed that those results will only be accessed by the Social Services Department, with police having no further involvement.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has played down claims of a Centrelink crackdown, insisting the change was brought in to help welfare recipients break into the job market.

“If they test positive, if they do have that dependency, then they get the cashless debit card, they get management – cash management, income management is very important – and also will get the support, access to rehab to get them off the substance abuse,’’ he told Sky News.

The Turnbull Government is set to overhaul the welfare system. Photo: AAP

“Because frankly, unless they do that, they can’t get a job and the best form of welfare, after all, is a job."

Anyone who tests positive to a test will be placed on welfare quarantining, while those who fail more than once will be referred to medical professions for assessment and treatment.

“We will no longer accept, as an excuse from repeat offenders, that the reason they could not meet their mutual obligation requirements was because they were drunk or drug-affected,” Treasurer Scott Morrison said.

“JobSeeker recipients who test positive would be placed on the Cashless Debit Card for their welfare payments and be subjected to further tests and possible referral for treatment.”

Further measures will also see a demerit point system be introduced for welfare recipients who don't turn up for job interviews or work-for-the-dole appointments.

Slack jobseekers will start losing payments when they reach four points, and when they get to seven points will be stripped of payments for eight weeks, News Corp reports.