Sunday, 2 December 2012

Being heard and Drug Testing Beneficiaries...

On Friday I was able to present my oral submission to the Politicians about the Amendment proposed under the Social Security Act about Drug Testing Beneficiaries. I was given name suppression and the room was cleared because, (i don't really know) but I guess it was because I was disclosing my deep dark personal secret cannabis use.

I wrote a submission outlining my life story as a teacher and how it is difficult to be a law reform activist and remain employed. Also how being on a benefit and having a prior conviction can make employment next to impossible. I certainly feel like I am last choice. Which is a shame, as I have had over  a decade working alongside drug users, as a counsellor and two years working with youth at Odyssey House. I have a unique set of skills.

So when I went to present my submission I was pretty sure of the ground I stood on.
I thought it best to start by asking those on the panel, MPs from all Parties are part of the select committee three questions.
1. Have you ever been long term unemployed?

2. Have you ever been before a court?

3. Have you or your family ever smoked cannabis?

I must say I did not really get any answers.

One lady MP put her hand up for being unemployed I think.

I then said when there are no jobs and the number of being made redundant each week is growing there is a real problem.

I am afraid I did not know the name of the chair but he proudly held up his shiny new I pad and said there are 14,000 jobs on seek and I could get one easily. It may not fit my skills but that did not bother him.

I tried to explain that many people do not have internet or phones or many in Avondale, where I live are immigrants without the required language skills.
His reply was directed at me and that perhaps I should not be too choosy.

I said it does not make sense for me to go off and pick fruit when I am nearly finished a Masters degree in Public Health.
The word dolt! entered my mind when listening to this pompous prick with an I Pad tell me there are 17,000 jobs on seek.

I guess I can only hope that common sense prevails and this lot of DOLTs get voted out.

When you are creating the problem, (jobless) blaming them for being jobless does not bring about change.

What is needed is a proper structure in place to train young people and prepare them for real jobs. Not everyone is going to go to University and the cleaners,cooks and childcare workers are undervalued and underpaid.

To solve any problem I learned from Paolo Friere that you must be able to understand what the problem really is.
The point I wanted to make was why test beneficiaries for using drugs when there are no jobs. I have no issue with drug testing once a person has a contract for a job and that the job requires a level of alertness or safety that drug testing is justified.

It costs over $100.00 to test for substances in a body. Plus most substances, E, alcohol , P and LSD etc have been passed out leaving only cannabis remaining in the system for detection. why waste time and money  when the goal is to create employment and more REAL jobs.

Right now there is extra seasonal work , pre- Christmas but that is not going to last.
I hope they understood me, that it is a pointless exercise, and one that smacks of coercion and bullying to attack the weakest and most vulnerable when a real job at a real living wage is what is needed.

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