In Welfare Services

Northern Territory Minister for Alcohol Rehabilitation Robyn Lambley

Mandatory Alcohol Treatment For Problem Drunks In Alice Springs

Victor P Taffa

Repeat problem drinkers in Alice Springs will be required to undertake mandatory alcohol treatment under new measures announced today by the Northern Territory Government.

Under the plan, problem drinkers placed in protective custody three times in two months will be assessed for a placement of up to 12 weeks in mandatory rehabilitation.

Alcohol Rehabilitation Minister Robyn Lambley said the reforms target the town’s substantial problems with public drunkenness, anti-social behaviour and alcohol related harm.

The Government is currently in discussion with private rehabilitation providers, including the Central Australian Aboriginal Alcohol Programs Unit (CAAAPU) and others across the Northern Territory.

At the implementation stage, at least 80 problem drinkers a year in and around Alice Springs will be placed in mandatory rehabilitation.


Territory wide, up to 800 problem drinkers will receive alcohol mandatory treatment at centres in Katherine, Darwin, Alice Springs and Nhulunbuy. The provision of after-care is an important component of the Government’s plan.

The scheme will begin operating on July 1st.

“Residents and business operators in Alice Springs are fed up with problem drinkers and want a new approach to dealing with the issues associated with public drunkenness.” Mrs. Lambley said.

“Mandatory rehabilitation sends a very clear message to repeat problem drinkers that the Government will not tolerate anti-social behaviour that disrupts residents, businesses, neighbourhoods and communities.”

“Alcohol abuse costs the Northern Territory $642 Million every year in Police time, corrections, judicial support, medical treatment and lost productivity.”

“The 12 week rehabilitation program will include a therapeutic alcohol and drug treatment component and work readiness training.”

“People who misuse alcohol and have criminal charges pending will not be treated in any of the secure alcohol mandatory treatment facilities.”

CAAAPU chief executive, Philip Allnutt, supports the initiative.

“It is important that Aboriginal men and women are involved in the delivery of rehabilitation programs and that adequate after care is provided to clients.” Mr. Allnutt said.

“CAAAPU’s location just out of Alice Springs is ideal for mandatory and voluntary residential treatment, providing a quiet, secluded place of refuge and safety.”

“CAAAPU feels that an initial 25 bed pilot program should first be conducted with comprehensive evaluation before expanding to further beds.” Mr. Allnutt said.


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