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Thread: General/Opinion

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And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too -- I'll see you on the dark side of the moon!

All you need is "Love"


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Date: Tue, 01 Aug 2017 19:38:00 +1000

Recently, the following correspondence arrived in my inbox.

Dear Gerry,

For 30 years, I served as the head of St Vincent's Hospital Alcohol and Drug Service in Sydney.

I have treated many thousands of patients trying to rebuild their lives in the face of alcohol and drug problems. Many have been victims of sexual abuse, violence from family members, or other devastating trauma - and most are already living on the margins of society.

That's why I'm stunned by the government's plan to strip people with alcohol and drug problems of income support payments. [1]

Thirty years of experience, backed by research from all over the world, tells me that you can't punish people into recovery. In fact, pushing people into poverty only serves to undermine their chance of recovery - and puts lives at risk.

Over the coming weeks, Parliament will vote on whether to implement mandatory drug testing. Doctors, nurses and allied health workers - determined to protect patients - are speaking out against the changes.

Will you stand with us to ensure dignity and compassion for people struggling with alcohol and drug problems? Alex Wodak

Prime Minister Turnbull assures us that the proposal to strip people of income support payments is "based on love". [2] That's a hard thing to swallow given his government's failure to consult with addiction medicine experts and lack of evidence to support the trials.

Mandatory drug testing has already been trialled and abandoned in multiple countries around the world. It's a failed policy that violates our professional commitment to do no harm. This government is forcing doctors to make an impossible choice - to break the law or to hurt our patients.

I've seen with my own eyes how medical treatment of people struggling with severe alcohol and drug problems must be guided by compassionate care and respect for their human rights.

Call on the government to stop playing political games with people's lives: https://www.getup.org.au/help-not-harm-petition

Sincerely,

Dr Alex Wodak

President, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation


References:

[1] Drug testing welfare recipients is not about love, Malcolm Turnbull, it's about punishment, The Guardian, 11 May 2017

[2] Federal budget 2017: Turnbull says welfare drug test policy 'based on love', ABC News, 12 May 2017


Update 2017-12-06: The Turnbull government dropped its plans to implement the above reforms because it was unable to get them through the Senate. Could Getup's campaign have contriuted to this failure?


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