Soldiers risk losing jobs for drug use


FIVE Townsville soldiers have tested positive to drugs and are at risk of losing their jobs.

The Department of Defence confirmed five soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment returned positive test results for prohibited substances in August.

It is understood the soldiers tested positive for MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy.

In a statement, Defence said four of the soldiers were withdrawn from training.

"As per Defence policy, the soldiers are required to show-cause as to why their Australian Defence Force (ADF) service should not be terminated," the statement said.

"Defence takes all incidents of this nature very seriously and has a zero-tolerance policy to the use of prohibited substances."

The soldiers retain access to the full range of support services to ADF members.

The matter was not referred to civilian police.

Defence could not comment further on the case as it was still under investigation.

Last year, an investigation by the Townsville Bulletin revealed at least 20 Townsville-based ADF personnel returned positive drug tests over a 14 month period.

A Freedom of Information request revealed 16 Army members were caught with prohibited drugs in their system from July 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018, which resulted in 11 being discharged.

Townsville Royal Australian Air Force units subjected to testing from July 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018 produced four positive results drugs including prescription drugs.

Results from the Australian Defence Force's Prohibited Substance Testing Program, obtained by the Bulletin through another FOI request in 2017, showed 33 Townsville Army personnel recorded positive test readings for illicit drugs in 2012-13, 16 in 2013-14, 15 in 2014-15, 22 in 2015-16 and 10 in 2016-17.

Six members from the 5th Aviation Regiment, an army helicopter unit based at RAAF Base Townsville, also risked being kicked out of the ADF for drug use in 2018.

Their actions were criticised for being irresponsible.

The Bulletin revealed members of 5RAR were subjected to targeted drug tests in early to mid-June as a result of information uncovered by Townsville police in May.

Six army personnel faced administrative action as a result.