City of Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams has called on the federal government to ensure there are enough local support services ahead of a potential new trial to drug test welfare recipients.
As reported last week, it is being proposed that local welfare recipients are drug tested as part of a commonwealth initiative, with Mandurah selected as one of three locations across Australia for a potential 24-month trial.
The idea was first floated by the federal government in 2017 and has now been resurrected by the Coalition, with debate in Parliament passionate in recent weeks.
Should the legislation be endorsed, it would see Mandurah welfare recipients that tested positive for prohibited substances directed to counselling sessions and support services.
It would also mean that the majority of their welfare would be delivered via cashless welfare cards to avoid the cash purchase of illicit substances.
Canning MP Andrew Hastie told the Mandurah Mail last week that he backed the trial, labelling it a "good plan" to help local drug users.
However, Mr Williams said helping people addicted to drugs was a "massively complex" issue for the authorities.
"This is a decision for the federal Parliament but I strongly encourage decision makers to review the evidence on trials in other locations and ensure adequate resources are provided to services who are likely to see an increase in demand," he said.
"These trials may be one strategy for addressing addiction but substance abuse issues are massively complex and require a multifaceted approach.
"Ultimately, while treatment is important, we need to prioritise an integrated approach to prevention."
Mr Hastie said he took the feedback onboard and said the commonwealth would ensure the required support services were adequately resourced.
"I appreciate Mayor Williams' concern - I hear him," he said.
"The government's plan addresses the question of resourcing. The trial includes a treatment fund of $10 million to ensure those who test positive have sufficient access to support services.
"This is just one part of the government's response to drug abuse. We're reducing drug supply though operations like Taskforce Blaze and have increased funding to primary health services, which target prevention.
"The trial is a sensible measure that makes intuitive sense to anyone in Mandurah who has been drug tested on the job.
"If someone can't pass a drug test as a jobseeker, how can they be expected to pass a drug test on the job?
"We want to identify people who need help and get it to them."