Date PostedJuly 7, 2013

Alcoholics in NT face forced Rehab

The Northern Territory’s alcoholics may soon be forced into a3 month rehabilitation according to new legislation passed allowing mandatory alcohol treatment.

The legislation has been hugely contested by a number of organisations who say it infringes on human rights. From the time the draft legislation was announced to the public there has been heavy criticism particularly by indigenous groups, medical organisations and human rights and justice advocates that argued that the legislation would just make drunkenness a crime.

According to the new laws anyone who is taken into police protective custody for drunkenness more than two times in two months will be assessed and may face at least 3 months in alcohol rehabilitation.

This is even more reason why Responsible Service of Alcohol laws need to be enforced more strictly in the NT. The new legislation was prompted by the fact that more and more people in the state are becoming addicted to alcohol, binge drink daily and engage in violent acts while under the influence of alcohol – the situation has gotten out of control.

Those people who are arrested may also face criminal charges if they repeatedly abscond from rehabilitation programs once they are placed in them.

The following except from outlines the key points of the legislation:

The contentious legislation comes into effect in Northern Territory on July 1, 2013

Anyone taken into custody for drunkenness three times in two months to be assessed for the treatment

Patients could face criminal charges if they abscond from the program

Means some alcoholics will be forced into three months of rehabilitation

Treatment to occur at rehabilitation facilities in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs

Draft legislation heavily criticised by Indigenous groups, medical bodies and justice advocates

Critics argue it criminalises drunkenness

They also say it will do little to address alcohol problems in the Territory.

“It represents one of the greatest Australian policy failures since the introduction of cane toads…” Labor’s Michael Gunner said.

“Condemned by experts, rejected by those who would be required to administer and police it, and yet the Minister continues to praise its virtues.”

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The plan to force people into rehabilitation is due to start on Monday, the 1st of July and rehab centres being readied in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs to ensure that an increase in patients can be accommodated.

The legislation passed into law on Saturday morning at around 2:30am after 43 amendments and eight hours of parliamentary debates.

Let’s hope the new legislation will encourage even a few people to avoid public displays of drunkenness or if not the new legislation will help people with a drinking problem which had gotten out of hand, especially considering that they obviously cannot help themselves.

RSA staff must remember that regardless of these laws being passed, they still have a responsibility to patrons to ensure that they do not serve alcohol excessively or to minors. Anyone working in a licenced venue must undergo RSA training in order to learn the dos and don’ts of alcohol provision to customers in order to avoid the kinds of situations the legislation has been implemented to overcome.

Visit our homepage for more information or to register today.

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Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning, OH&S training, and web strategy firm based in Little Edward St. Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia. Urban E-Learning provides compliance related online , Distance and Face-to-Face training products in the construction, hospitality and heavy vehicle transport sectors, to name a few. Examples include the White Card Construction induction course and the RSA - Responsible Service of Alcohol course. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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