Compulsory drug treatment on the table

Stock image.
Stock image.

A PLAN to allow compulsory alcohol and drug treatment as an “option of last resort” has been released by the WA Government for public comment.

“All West Australians, including people who have experienced their own alcohol or drug problems, family members, service providers and the wider community can have their say on this important legislation,” Mental Health Minister Andrea Mitchell said.

She said compulsory alcohol and drug treatment programs were considered an option of last resort and would be just one option within a spectrum of treatment services available to people experiencing alcohol or drug addiction.

“It is important that issues such as the proposed criteria for inclusion, referral pathways, duration and safeguards are developed in consultation with key local stakeholders, interstate experts, and the community,” she said.

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Ms Mitchell released discussion and background papers by the Mental Health Commission and urged public comment on the proposed compulsory treatment.

But Armadale MLA Tony Buti said the State Government should be acquiring more beds for rehabilitation instead of introducing compulsory programs.

“There’s no doubt more needs to be done,” he said.

“We need more beds for those who want to break the cycle of addiction. We need to ensure that we are spending money on programs that are backed by evidence and on people who want to get clean.”

Mr Buti said drug and alcohol addiction were deeply troubling issues.

“While WA Labor will consider any legislation before the Parliament, I think the Government should adequately fund voluntary rehab beds before it starts forcing hard- core addicts into treatment that has not yet been proven to work.”

Ms Mitchell said 52 dedicated residential rehabilitation beds and eight low-medical detox beds were due to be operational from January 2017 as part of the WA Meth Strategy.

The MHC is expected to release an Exposure Draft Bill for community consultation before the end of the year.

Visit www.mhc.wa.gov.au.