NT's alcohol rehab program 'has no long-term health impacts'

Friday, 21 April 2017, 06:29:06 AM. The NT spent $18 million last year treating alcoholics with a program that a new report says has had little impact.
Photo: The report found the rehabilitation program had not made much of an impact on the health of patients. (ABC News: Dane Meale) An evaluation of the Northern Territory's contentious program of forcing alcoholics into treatment has found that for a program with no apparent long-term health impacts, the $18 million spent running it every year "seems high". The review, due to be released today, also found that blockages in the system, including a lack of beds and staff at assessment centres, meant that up to half the people who could potentially benefit from the treatment were excluded from the process. Under the mandatory treatment program, anyone picked up by police for being drunk in public three times in two months can be forced into rehabilitation in Alice Springs or Darwin for up to 12 weeks. The controversial scheme was introduced by the former NT Country Liberals government in July 2013, in spite of fierce opposition from health, legal, and Indigenous groups, who argued that the program targeted homeless Indigenous people and criminalised a health issue. "[AMT] was a costly program that delivered minimal long term gains for the relatively few people who participated," Health Minister Natasha Fyles said. The evaluation of the program, by PwC's Indigenous Consulting and the Menzies School of Health Research, was commissioned by the former CLP government and was handed to the NT Health Department in January. But the reviewers found there were limitations to what...Read more
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