Monday, May 27, 2024

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HomeIssue 13Mandatory treatment for alcoholics at facility near gaol

Mandatory treatment for alcoholics at facility near gaol

Under the roll-out of alcohol mandatory treatment across the Territory, the Alice Springs assessment centre will be located at the secure care facility (pictured) adjacent to the Alice Springs gaol, on the South Stuart Highway, says Health Minister Robyn Lambley.
She says the demand for adult secure care in Central Australia is well short of capacity: “On that basis, half the Alice Springs centre will be used for adult secure care, with the remaining eight beds separated from that service now to be used for alcohol mandatory treatment assessments and also treatment.
“The service will be operated by the Department of Health and will have a full-time staff of 18 including professional and physical nurses and liaison officers.
“It is intended only as a temporary solution for 18 months, consistent with the Phase 2 roll-out of a 50-bed treatment centre in Alice Springs.
“Under Phase 1 of alcohol mandatory treatment, which begins on 1 July, 20 rehabilitation beds will be in place at the Central Australian Aboriginal Alcohol Programs Unit (CAAAPU),” says Ms Lambley.
“In full operation up to 800 problem drinkers will undertake rehabilitation in the Territory every year.”


  1. So this facility wasn’t safe enough to house young people with severe behavioural problems – they now have to be shipped thousands of kilometers away from family and support to make way for eight drunks.
    And why is it safe for drunks undergoing mandatory rehab but not the group it was purpose built for?
    Sorry Robyn I think what you’re trying to say is we’re making it up as we go along – and who gives a flying about young people with intellectual disabilities and behavioural problems. No votes in them.
    But of course there’s a lot of political capital tied up in drunks.
    And I’m sorry but 28 beds for the how many hundreds of people who are going to be caught up in these Pythonesque drunk laws?
    But the saddest thing is Alice Springs now doesn’t give a damn – we got our magic CLP government and everything is right with our world.
    No hysterical government bashing on 8CLP – they now work for ’em. No vitriol in the Alice News – c’mon Erwin, about time you turned your torch of truth on our local members and started calling them to account don’t you think?
    [ED – I have a nearly 40 year record in Central Australia of “calling them to account” no matter what political colour they may be. You will find corroboration of that, amongst other sources, in our six million word online archive. It’s just a click away from you. And we are pleased to give you the freedom of speech for sharing your views in a medium where thousands have access to them.]

  2. An Aboriginal friend who had a stroke last year has been back on the grog for months. He tried to stay off, but he told me he “can’t live up to it.”
    I can’t see how 28 beds in Mandatory Treatment is going to be any good to him. He’s one step away from dialsysis and he’s not likely to be picked up intoxicated several times in three months either, if he lives that long.
    What would help him is less opportunity to purchase alcohol and some moral support in the form of a Banned Drinker’s Register. He would voluntarily put himself on it again.
    Takeaway seven days a week offered by the two pubs in town and the nearby roadhouses is an example of liberal society’s failure to set an example by reducing liberal supply.
    When the CLP get serious about supply reduction, life in the NT will improve.

  3. Hi Melanie, just a small point, but I think you will find the treatment facility was not “purpose built” for young people, it was actually designed and built as a adult secure mental health facility. It was then looked at as an alternative secure facility for the kids you refer to, however now it is being used as another alternative.

  4. I sadly have to agree with Melanie Ross that Alice Springs no longer gives a damn. I know that’s not across the board, so all of you commentators who do still give a damn, please don’t take me up too hard on that statement.
    But think about it. We go up and down and around and around on this issue, year in and year out. It never stops. Proposal A gets squashed by this group. Proposal B gets squashed by that group. Most of us hunker down and get on with our lives simply because we have learned how to and because we have to.
    Eight beds! The house next door to mine could over-fill that facility after any consecutive three weekends. I don’t know where our future answer / solution will come from, but eight beds is risible.
    And look at the accompanying photo. The gates. The fence. The lights. We’re talking about chronic drunks here, not terrorists. On one level this latest solution is over-kill. On another it misses the point entirely.
    I’ll say it straight out: You lot in the CLP were fools to scrap the Banned Drinkers Register. Fools!

  5. I read within the AS News article: “The service will be operated by the Department of Health and will have a full-time staff of 18 including professional and physical nurses and liaison officers.”
    As far as I am aware, there are no more than five current staff some sent down from Darwin on a weekly basis, and major difficulties to recruit new staff (even on 457 visas!)
    The facility was built to house people with severe cognitive impairment under the Disability Act and assist them to reintegrate social living in their own community. The two separate sections for adults and for children have already been reduced to “adult only” – whilst children will be sent away from family visits and comfort to the facility in Darwin!
    Now surprise, surprise, all this become an Mandatory Alcohol Rehabilitation center under the CLP new and ill-conceived legislation. C’mon …
    the cowboy MLAs do not see beyond the shade of their Akubras!

  6. Hi Ray, I think you’ll find it was purpose built with a section for adults and a section for juveniles. I was there quite a few times during construction and involved in the planning.

  7. When it was revealed in the NT News early last year that both political parties in the Northern Territory had accepted campaign contributions from the liquor industry, no details were forthcoming. In “The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the Sixties Changed America” Roger Kimball (2000: 282) concludes: “It is both ironical and dispiriting to realise that the counterculture may have won its most insidious victories not among its natural sympathisers on the Left but, on the contrary, among those putatively conservative opponents who can no longer distinguish between material affluence and the moral good.”
    On the issue of alcohol policy in the NT, we have the Left being to the right of the Right, which makes the Chief Minister’s comments on a Right’s based Socialist Left critique of their policy, a case of ideological defensiveness. The worst example of this is the dismantling of the BDR.
    However, there is some softening of the CLP position.
    One hopes that saving face can be put aside in the interests of those who are falling between the cracks and evidence-based measures such as a floor price, days free of takeaway and ID scanning.
    A 50 bed Alice-based Mandatory Rehab Treatment Facility in 18 months is an affluent gamble. To put all the eggs in that basket and do nothing else is to lose sight of the moral position.

  8. Here in Nevada we can purchase beer wine and hard liquor 24/7 any day of the year. It is sold everywhere, even at service stations. Beer from one can, double can, three can lot, six pack, 12 pack, 18 pack 20 pack, 24 pack, 30 pack, or 36 pack.
    Wine and liquor up to one gallon bottles to cases. Buy all you want load up the trick and take it home.
    Unlike some nanny controlled counties and states there is no problems. Australia has some of the most stringent liquors laws anywhere and apparently the most public drunks. Here in Las Vegas I can’t remember the last time I saw a drunk. Just sayin.

  9. Will alcoholics already sentenced to reside within the prison (where alcohol recognized as influence) receive same level of mandatory support?
    Will same support be part of their probation, suspended sentence, or good behavior bond, plans?

  10. Alcohol in excess is a terrible thing in the lives of families everywhere, for the individual alcoholics the physical toll is often self evident.
    My father and his three younger brothers were all serious drinkers in the true Tragic tragic tradition of many hard working hard drinking hard partying men from Glasgow.
    Dad was the only one of the four that married with a family of his own, and it was only the onset of a duodenal ulcer at 30 years of age that ironically saved his life and enabled him to turn around years of alcohol abuse, due to spending 16 months in hospital on the brink of death.
    He was not able to drink during that time, had a chance to reflect on his life, and the impact his then lifestyle was having on us, his family. Unfortunately, his brothers were not as lucky, they were all dead by forty due to chronic organ failures of various kinds due to alcohol.
    They were loved by many, my uncle Charlie “Chook” had one of the largest funeral attendances ever seen in the Port Adelaide area, he was a funny, loving man, genuinely interested in people, a friend to all, and a consummate storyteller.
    His brother John “Hoss” was a leading restoration plasterer, and had been a tradesman of the year as a lad.
    Uncle Dennis “The Wheel” was a secretary and president of a union, and established a local social club for young blokes at a loose end to hang out and lift weights, play darts, snooker, and play footy.
    Sometimes anyone of them, or all of them needed someone to give them a helping hand to get home, or to get sober for a bit.
    I am sure that the people in Alice suffering the ravages of alcohol abuse have similar stories to tell on a daily basis.
    The “drunks” are people that have families, friends, and kind hearted souls looking out for them, crying for them, laughing with them, and feeling he effects of alcoholism.
    I don’t know what the answers are, I am sad when I read about people, communities caught up in this overwhelming pathos. Whatever is or isn’t done, let us always remember, there but by grace goes us. Compassion is all we can draw on to guide us.

  11. Has Christmas come early?
    Health Minister Robyn Lambley tells Legislative Assembly “the first batch of clients due to leave alcohol mandatory treatment in October will have a three-month Centrelink war chest of up to $3,000 and no restrictions whatsoever on how they spend it”.
    Commonwealth Minister Jenny Macklin replies do not blame Commonwealth for income management issues, is fault of NTG not reaching goals for progress with rehabilitation centres to justify income management being applied.
    Cheap political jousting from both of them.
    Commonwealth and NT just refuse leave these responsibilities to those appointed to regularly make these decisions – the courts.
    Judicial decisions need remain with the Courts.
    Public Service sentences for breach of what laws?
    Such decisions by Ministers or Public Servants indicate totalitarian goals, destruction of Australian Constitutional principles like “separation of powers” and right to a fair trial.


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