Opposition Deputy Leader Vickie Chapman had put forward a Bill for mandatory rehabilitation after being approached by desperate parents, including one mum who described her son’s drug battle as “hell on Earth”.
The proposed laws, targeting drug users aged under 18 years, would have required a medical assessment declaring the detained person was suffering from an addiction and at risk of harm.
A parent, or other interested person such as a teacher or healthcare worker, could have then applied for a court rehab order.
However, in Parliament on Thursday morning, Government MPs — who hold the majority in the Lower House — voted against the Bill.
Substance Abuse Minister Leesa Vlahos told The Advertiser that the State Government would instead consider Ms Chapman’s idea as part of a taskforce it set up last month to curb the use of the drug ice.
However, Ms Vlahos said current research “suggests mandatory drug and alcohol rehabilitation services do not work effectively”.
“By providing rehabilitation services in the community (instead), the drug user is able to access support from family, friends and other members of their community,” she said.
“Whenever possible, we should be diverting people, especially children, away from courts when we need to treat the illness of addiction.”
Ms Chapman said some South Australian families were being “torn apart trying to deal with the highly erratic and destructive behaviour of children addicted to ice”.
“There is an ice epidemic sweeping through communities across South Australia and many of its victims are children,” she said.
“The Controlled Substances (Youth Treatment Orders) Amendment Bill would have led to the establishment of a vital facility for the treatment of young people struggling with drug addiction.
“We cannot afford to sit back and watch children fall into a life of addiction because we are concerned their rights are being impinged by making the treatment mandatory.”
The Federal Government has allocated almost $300 million to the a national taskforce and four-year strategy to improve treatment, after-care, education, prevention, support and community engagement to tackle abuse of crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice.
Only $11.6 million has been allocated to drug treatment services in SA.
The State Government last month announced it would form its own taskforce to combat the drug.
The taskforce will consider new prevention and treatments for addicts and ways to better educate the public about the dangers of the drug.
Ahead of last year’s federal election, South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon suggested part of the Ice Taskforce funding be used for a pilot mandatory drug rehabilitation service in Mt Gambier.
This piece by Lauren Novak was originally pblished on ‘The Advertiser’