Alcohol Mandatory Treatment review: absconding may remain offence

p1845lambleyrobyn

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – I have released the six month review of the Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Act. It attracted 12 submissions, with other feedback contributed through focus groups and client interviews.

 

 

This is an opportunity for the community to have a look at the review and comment on the recommendations. There are 48 recommendations, which include many technical changes that will improve operations through the legislation.

 

 

It is recommended that legislation making it an offence to abscond from AMT more than three times should be changed. However, the Territory Government is concerned that public drunkenness is a serious issue and we want people to complete their Alcohol Mandatory Treatment order, so we will have to consider this recommendation very carefully before making a decision.

 

 

I’ve heard dozens of stories now about how AMT has helped people reconnect with their family and their community, and most importantly improve their health.

 

 

Other recommendations include extending the assessment period so clinicians can apply for more time to assess clients who are very intoxicated or sick.

 

 

There is also a recommendation for the Territory Government to consider allowing other people into AMT, who do not enter the scheme through the protective custody pathway.

 

 

For example, if these changes to the legislation are made, an Emergency Department physician who sees a person come in every night intoxicated may be able to refer this person to AMT.

 

 

I look forward to the community’s feedback on the review and continuing our important work in helping hundreds of Territorians who are afflicted by alcoholism to access the rehab they need to be safer and happier, and turn their lives around.

 

Robyn Lambley

Minister for Alcohol Rehabilitation

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!

6 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Russell Guy
    Posted August 22, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Dear Minister,
    Thank you once again for the opportunity to bring to your attention information relating to alcohol consumption and the underlying health burden to all Australians. I quote from Issue #61 (21/8/14) of the Perth based McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth:
    “Strong alcohol policy, including increased price and reduced availability of alcohol, is associated with reduced binge drinking among adults.
    “Drinkers should be able to make informed decisions about whether and how much to drink. To do this, we need to regulate alcohol labelling and include more targeted and relevant health warnings on alcohol drinks (including messages about cancer and alcohol).
    “The Federal Government recently decided to give the alcohol industry another 2 years to implement voluntary health warning labels (which were found to be vague and ineffective). However, this research will inform stronger approaches to labelling in the future.
    “High levels of drinking in adults are directly indicative of adolescent drunkenness, suggests a survey of more than 140,000 adolescents surveyed across 37 countries. Other key findings include:
    Risky drinking in adults was associated with adolescent drunkenness. The more adults abstained from drinking, the less likely young people were to have ever been drunk. Weak regulation of alcohol availability and alcohol advertising were associated with weekly drinking by adolescents.”

    View Comment
  2. Russell Guy
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Dear Minister,

    Thank you for the opportunity to again comment on AMT. You say “It is recommended that legislation making it an offence to abscond from AMT more than three times should be changed. However, the Territory Government is concerned that public drunkenness is a serious issue and we want people to complete their Alcohol Mandatory Treatment order, so we will have to consider this recommendation very carefully before making a decision”.
    I too think that public drunkenness is a serious issue and recommend that if you want people to take responsibility for their excessive alcohol consumption, or for the long-term alcoholism that is tearing their lives and families apart, then your government should consider, at the very least, making some concession towards helping them by introducing mid-strength and / or light beer at roadhouse takeaway outlets.
    The volatile mix of full-strength beer, rum, wine and vodka mixes found in multiple bush drinking camps is further evidence that something more needs to be done.
    Please consider checking the records of your bush police and child welfare workers (including FASD disposed children) for corroboration.
    There is a relatively new sound in the bush of an aluminium beer can being blown down the highway in the quiet of the morning.
    Whilst it is a softly musical tone, it speaks volumes of a disappearing tradition that the old people warned about.
    We need to show some respect for that by showing the bush people that you are serious about pre-empting locking them up in AMT.

    View Comment
  3. Russell Guy
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I once read where you shouldn’t call any man hopeless until you’ve done all that you can to help him.
    I am looking at hopeless despair this morning – no other words to describe it. It’s finally come down to this after seven years of concentrated effort.
    At 10:30 this morning, across the road from the roadhouse, sit my friends A… and A…, two men around 50 years of age, fit and able, drinking cans of VB in the dust, in full view of tourists, beside C… and T… and D…, all drinking to passive welfare: no work, easy money = alcoholism.
    They lower their heads when I walk past, except for A… who calls and waves. He spent three days sober. I brought him a cup of tea and a bacon and egg sandwich in the long grass on Sunday morning after a four day bender, but here he goes again, happily drinking to oblivion.
    Same for the other A… who told me a month ago that he was finished drinking. Both men have lost four family members in the past month. C… is back on the grog after weeks of desperately trying to stay off it, but when the roadhouse opens, he can legally obtain a six pack takeaway.
    They are well known to the roadhouse, so can’t give any other name when requested to have it recorded on a daily grog sale sheet, but many others give false names because they don’t have to produce any ID.
    “You can only help those who want to help themselves,” says the tourist.

    View Comment
  4. Russell Guy
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 8:54 am

    A one gallon blackened billy can, a plastic 20 liter half-full water container, half a dozen spanners and a set of jumper leads on the floor of the broken-down, early model Commodore speak of the basics on bush tracks.
    My friend A… staggers forth from a smoking log with a can of VB in his hand and a sober mate at his side, to proudly tell me that he’d slept with a blanket there throughout the cold winter’s night.
    He’s been on a bender for the past three or four days and losing two family members a couple of weeks ago.
    There’s not much work around here for his generation of Aboriginal men, the majority of whom are alcoholics I’ve known these past seven years. He used to get a bit of stock work when it was available, but this morning he’s headed towards the roadhouse where his mate can legally buy a six-pack, according to NT licensing legislation, because the roadhouse is open and hair of the dog is out for the whitefellers.
    It might be kinder to buy A… some beer until he drops. You can feel the piteous stares as motorists drive off and of those who sideline him because of their conditioned racism. I no longer wonder why Henry Lawson wrote a poem about the Good Samaritan.

    View Comment
  5. Russell Guy
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 10:12 am

    It’s 10:30am on a Saturday morning and the six packs of VB are walking out of the roadhouse door, because they can, according to NT legislation.
    The people carrying them are men and women in their late 20s. In the cars, are older people and kids.
    Two weeks ago, a 40 year old Anmatjerre woman friend was airlifted to Adelaide after suffering a stroke. She is unable to talk and it has caused considerable trauma in the local community.
    This occurred 18 months after her 45 year old husband suffered a stroke. I visited him in Alice hospital and found him in a wheelchair. He is back on the grog, “too weak” too stop.
    He was once a fine artist, painting his cultural law, so it is with some small measure of hope that a new Alcohol and Health campaign called “What you can’t see” was launched by the WA Minister for Mental Health, Hon Helen Morton MLC, last week.
    The campaign builds on the successful “Alcohol and Cancer” campaign and expands on the messaging that alcohol causes a range of health harms in both the short and long-term, including cancer, liver disease, heart disease and stroke. It shows that risk of alcohol-caused disease can be reduced by following the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Guidelines on low risk drinking levels.
    It would be great if the NT Minister for Alcohol Rehabilitation followed suit.

    View Comment
  6. Russell Guy
    Posted June 30, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    I thank the Minister for inviting community response with this Report, but I can’t find anything in it about harm prevention in terms of the liberal supply of alcohol in the Northern Territory.
    The Alcohol Industry is an expansionary industry with global aspirations that prosper NT consumption way above the national average.
    We need a Minister for Alcohol Harm Prevention, not to be confused with Minimisation. Rehabilitation is only one approach to an insidious health problem in the NT.
    AMT without a Harm Prevention Policy will be anything but effective in reducing levels of alcoholism in the NT, particularly in the bush where people more often fall through the cracks in the much lauded governmental overview.
    Leadership is required to get tough on supply reduction, not just demand. The same policy applies to other drugs, including tobacco.
    “Turning the Tap Off” is not the same as “Turning the Tap Down”.
    The CLP has reversed the logic and is asking much in terms of its credibility for those of us who see, rather than hear, lives ebbing away because of the core social values associated with alcoholism in the NT.

    View Comment

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*