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AMA submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee's Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017

09 Aug 2017
The AMA has provided a submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee's Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017.
 

The Explanatory Memorandum to this Bill posits that it is contrary to community expectations that people who ‘abuse’ substances receive welfare payments. This overlooks the health implications, and approaches substance dependence from a moral standpoint.  The AMA considers substance dependence to be a serious health problem, one that is associated with high rates of disability and mortality. The AMA firmly believes that those affected should be treated in the same way as other patients with serious health conditions, including access to treatment and supports to recovery. Treatment and support services for people with substance dependence are already under pressure; this Bill will inevitably result in increased demand.

The AMA is concerned that the approach could inadvertently result in increased incarceration for welfare recipients with a substance dependence. Moves to disregard or discount medical advice about the capacity of those with substance dependence is also problematic. In order to minimise the risk of unintended consequences associated with the Bill, thorough consultation and refinement of the Bill is recommended.

Published: 09 Aug 2017