Mandatory treatment for young people who are drug dependent

The Marshall Liberal Government will today introduce legislation to provide for the option of mandatory treatment for children and young people dependent on drugs.


The Controlled Substance (Youth Treatment Orders) Amendment Bill 2018 will enable parents who have been unable to engage their children in voluntary treatment to legally force their children to attend drug treatment programs in the hope of breaking addiction at the earliest possible time.

“Nobody understands the terrible impact of drug dependence better than a parent struggling to help a child experiencing drug problems,” said Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade.

The legislation also recognises that the Youth Court, police officers, youth correction officers and medical practitioners can have important insights into individual cases of young peoples’ drug dependence and enables them to seek an order.

 “What is critical is that we intervene in an effective manner to give the young person struggling with an addiction that best possible opportunity to break the addiction,” said Minister Wade.

“This Bill offers parents and these other agencies an opportunity of last resort when it is clear that the young person has refused to engage in treatment and there is a significant risk to their health and wellbeing. They are putting themselves at significant risk and are in need of medical treatment.”

The Youth Court would first make an assessment order to determine whether the young person is drug dependent, a danger to themselves or others and unlikely to voluntarily seek treatment.

Following an assessment order the Youth Court may make a treatment order requiring the young person to attend a treatment service.

The treatment provider will be required to report to both the young person undergoing treatment and the Youth Court.

“The Marshall Government understands this process is a substantial change from past practice but that need is born of the reality that intervening effectively to address a young person’s drug dependence reduces the harm they and their families will experience,” said Minister Wade.

“A broad consultation process will be undertaken with key health, justice and child protection agencies to ensure a model of care is developed that reflects the best available evidence.

“A review of the legislation will also take place three years after its commencement to determine its effectiveness and make recommendations for any amendments”.

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