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Submission to the Northern Territory Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Bill 2013

This submission responds to the Northern Territory Department of Health’s Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Bill 2013.

It outlines our serious concerns about this proposed legislation and the scheme that it will create.

The submission questions the scheme’s enormous and unjustified economic cost, given the lack of evidence for the effectiveness of mandatory treatment.

It recommends that the Northern Territory Government:

  1. Postpone the introduction of this policy, given the lack of evidence to support the effectiveness of mandatory alcohol treatment.
  2. Develop policy to reduce the harms of alcohol abuse that is based on evidence of what works, including the adoption of population-wide measures that restrict supply and investment in community-based treatment services.
  3. Implement a comprehensive range of evidence-based alcohol and drug misuse treatment alternatives across the Northern Territory.
  4. Limit any measures that restrict liberty in the absence of criminal convictions to the most extreme circumstances, and put in place comprehensive safeguards to protect the rights of people subject to these orders, including rights to appeal.
  5. Commission and publish independent legal advice regarding the constitutionality of the Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Bill and also whether it breaches any human rights conventions to which Australia is a party.

The submission also recommends that:

  • Non-compliance with Mandatory Treatment Schemes should not be an offence.
  • Income Management should not be a compulsory aspect of this scheme, in section 34 the word “must” should be replaced with “may”.
  • People with intellectual disabilities and acquired brain injuries should be able to access services and treatment which meet their needs and provide effective outcomes, with safeguards in place to ensure they are not subject to mandatory treatment.

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