The NT Government to release its mandatory rehabilitation legislation for public consultation prior to the next Parliamentary sittings in mid-May, writes Priscilla Collins, CEO of the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT.
Mandatory confinement for alcohol rehabilitation will soon start for at least some problem drunks at the moment they are taken into protective custody for the third time in two months.
They will be under constant supervision while they are being assessed, and possibly spend three months locked up in a special facility.
If they abscond the police will be chasing them, and – a matter still under consideration – they may finish up in gaol.
Once they complete the rehab, 70% of their income from welfare payments is likely to be managed, for at least a year.
So much for the stick. On the carrot side, they will get after-care, helping them to find and adjust to work, and assistance to cope with temptations "outside" to get back on the booze.
It's a 'lite' version of the touted programs that got the CLP into power in August last year, which promised expensive prison farms where people would spend a great deal more time than just three months. Alice Springs News Online editor ERWIN CHLANDA spoke with Health Minister Robyn Lambley(pictured) who has carriage of mandatory alcohol rehabilitation. PHOTO at top: The grounds of the Central Australian Aboriginal Alcohol Programs Unit.
Chief Minister Terry Mills is in Alice Springs for the Country Liberal Party annual meeting. ERWIN CHLANDA asked him to comment on three issues.
KILGARIFF: Given that the suburb is being built on land that is owned by the public, is there a good case for blocks – at least some – to be sold for the cost of developing them, around $70,000, although residential real estate currently costs up to five times as much?
ALCOHOL IN REMOTE COMMUNITIES: As the weaker people in bush communities may come under pressure from the more powerful, should there be secret ballots to decide whether alcohol should be allowed?
There is confusion about MANDATORY ALCOHOL REHABILITATION: Is it a criminal or medical measure?
Crime stats released: there is little difference in the number of alcohol-related assaults in Alice between 2010-11 and the BDR year, 2011-12, however alcohol-related assaults in Alice have increased by 47% since 2007.
The success of the government's mandatory rehabilitation of habitual drunks will be measured by things like fewer protective custodies, fewer presentations at accident and emergency departments – the usual benchmark indicators of social order, says the Territory's new Attorney-General John Elferink (pictured at left). And while the 800 or so "frequent flyers", as he calls them, are incarcerated in the "camps" intended for them, they will be off the streets – and that also will be a measure of success. KIERAN FINNANE speaks to the Attorney-Genereal.
UPDATE, September 18, 3.30pm: Shadow Minister for Police Kon Vatskalis has called on the CLP Government to implement Coroner Greg Cavanagh's recommendation regarding reducing the supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets. However, he puts his own gloss on what that would mean: reinstating the Banned Drinker Register ... read more in FULL STORY.
Chief Minister Terry Mills has side-stepped Coroner Greg Cavanagh's recommendation that an urgent meeting of stakeholders be convened in Alice Springs to commit to "all available, reasonable measures to reduce the supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets". As reported yesterday, this was one of two recommendations to government made by the Coroner in handing down his findings from the inquest into the death in custody of Kwemetyaye Briscoe.
Mr Mills' response in a media release focussed on "the need for cultural change within the Northern Territory police force". On the issue of alcohol control, Mr Mills said only that the "Country Liberals will increase the focus on mandatory rehabilitation". KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Central Australians would get much more influence over their affairs if the Country Liberals gained power in this year's NT election, says Opposition Leader Terry Mills.
In an interview with the Alice Springs News Online yesterday he said locals and the town council will have a greater say about town planning, and stakeholders will be involved in decisions over tourism promotion.
Alcohol control measures will "bring back peace to the streets of Alice Springs" and will have strong mandatory elements. There is no mention of a take-away free day nor a floor price.
The big shires may be broken up so that decision making is brought "closer to the people".
And while policies have yet to be fine-tuned, Mr Mills promises cheap residential land to enable young people to "get a stake in the Territory".
He spoke with editor ERWIN CHLANDA. Photo:Mr Mills addressing protesters outside NT Parliament during its sittings in Alice Springs in last year.