Editor's note

The government has framed its proposal to drug test welfare recipients as a helping hand to get people with drug problems back into work. But as drug and alcohol psychologist and researcher Nicole Lee writes, the proposal is deeply flawed.

The two-year trial would test around 5,000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients for MDMA, opioids (such as heroin), cocaine and methamphetamines such as ice. Those who test positive will be placed on income management, with 80% of their income quarantined.

But as Lee explains, a positive drug test can’t determine one-off or regular use, and most people who use drugs aren’t dependent on them. There’s also no evidence kicking people off welfare would save money, given the high cost of running drug testing programs.

Anna Evangeli

Deputy Editor: Health+Medicine

Top stories

Drug testing risks further marginalising welfare recipients. Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

Drugs don’t affect job seeking, so let’s offer users help rather than take away their payments

Nicole Lee, Curtin University

There's no evidence drug use is a barrier to job seeking. And testing can't distinguish between one off, irregular or regular use.

During a heatwave in late 2018, Cairns temperatures topped 35°C nine days in a row and sensors at some points in the CBD recorded 45°C.

Urban growth, heat islands, humidity, climate change: the costs multiply in tropical cities

Taha Chaiechi, James Cook University; Silvia Tavares, James Cook University

The world's fastest-growing cities are in the tropics. They are highly exposed to climate change, especially as urban heat island effects and humidity magnify the impacts of increasing heatwaves.

Apothecaries of the 17th and 18th centuries diagnosed illness, mixed up medicine and dispensed it, a far cry from the current turf war between doctors and pharmacists. Cam Miller/Flickr

How rivalries between doctors and pharmacists turned into the ‘turf war’ we see today

Philippa Martyr, University of Western Australia

The 'turf war' between doctors and pharmacists we see in current debates has a long history.


Arts + Culture

Politics + Society

Health + Medicine

Science + Technology

  • Curious Kids: why does Saturn have rings?

    Lucyna Kedziora-Chudczer, Swinburne University of Technology

    Most people think that many millions of years ago, Saturn didn't have rings at all. Instead, it had a big moon moving around it. Eventually, the moon burst and broke into pieces.

Business + Economy

Environment + Energy

  • Environment laws have failed to tackle the extinction emergency. Here’s the proof

    Michelle Ward, The University of Queensland; April Reside, The University of Queensland; Hugh Possingham, The University of Queensland; James Watson, The University of Queensland; Jeremy Simmonds, The University of Queensland; Jonathan Rhodes, The University of Queensland; Martin Taylor, The University of Queensland

    A staggering 7.7 million hectares of critical habitat has been destroyed since environment laws were enacted - and 93% was not referred to the federal government for assessment.


Featured jobs

Prof Of Agriculture/ Head School Of Agricultural & Wine Science

Charles Sturt University — Wagga Wagga, New South Wales

Senior Grants Advisor (Arc And Other Schemes)

La Trobe University — Bundoora, Victoria

Casual Research Communications Coordinator (Learn)

University of Melbourne — Parkville, Victoria

Chief Technician (Digital Dentistry)

University of Western Australia — Perth, Western Australia

More Jobs

Featured events

Education Graduate Research Information Evening

Learning and Teaching building, 19 Ancora Imparo Way, Clayton campus, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, 3800, Australia — Monash University

Hate as a public health issue

The University of Sydney, Sydney , New South Wales, 2006, Australia — The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre

The limits of risk factors revisited, with Professor Sandro Galea

Leighton Hall, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW, Kensington, Sydney , New South Wales, 2052, Australia — UNSW

Outcomes Measurement Workshop Sydney

UNSW CBD Level 6, 1 O'Connell Street,, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000, Australia — UNSW

More events

Contact us here to list your job, or here to list your event.

For sponsorship opportunities, email us here