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AMA calls for return of Labor's BDR and scrapping of CLP's AMT
AMA calls for return of Labor's BDR and scrapping of CLP's AMT

5 April 2016 - Shadow Minister for Government Accountability, Nicole Manison, welcomed calls from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) to return the Banned Drinker’s Register (BDR) and scrap the failed and costly CLP Alcohol Mandatory Treatment (AMT).


“The AMA is the most influential body representing medical practitioners and exists to promote and protect professional interest of doctors and the health care needs of patients and communities,” Ms Manison said.


“We welcome the AMA’s call for the return of a point of sale intervention system Territory wide in the Banned Drinker’s Register, and their call to scrap the CLP’s failed and costly AMT policy.


"Probably one of the worst things that Terry Mills did in the short time he was Chief Minister was abolish the BDR, which was a very effective method of containing problem drinkers in the Territory.

I think everyone is aware that the elephant in the room is that the Mandatory Alcohol rehab, which the government had to develop following the abolition of a very successfully alcohol control policy, has been an absolute disaster from the word go, and they’re always trying to make excuses and try and catch up but the whole thing just hasn’t worked." - Robert Parker, President of the AMA - ABC Radio, 5 April 2016


“The CLP’s failed AMT policy is costing taxpayers $30 million per year and two thirds of the beds available are empty – highlighting an expensive but poorly thought out and implemented policy,” Ms Manison said.


“Anti-social behaviour continues to hurt our community, and something must be done. According to Police statistics, 2013 and 2014 were the most violent years in the Territory’s history.”


“The AMA’s comments about the effectiveness of the BDR echo recent comments by the Police Association of the Northern Territory saying the Banned Drinker’s Register did have an impact.”


"When you look back at the Banned Drinkers Register, it was certainly having an effect." - Paul McCue, President of the NT Police Association - Mix 104.9, 16 March 2016


“The CLP must listen to the experts and listen to the community – Adam Giles must implement a Territory wide point of sale intervention system, and they can do that by bringing back the Banned Drinker’s Register,” Ms Manison said.

Media Contact: Gino Luglietti 0401 119 794



30 October 2015 - Shadow Minister for Alcohol Policy, Natasha Fyles, said the CLP’s continuing incompetence has led to the scrapping of Alcohol Mandatory Treatment (AMT) in Tennant Creek in an apparent admission of 3 years of wasteful mistakes.


“Just days after Territory Labor revealed that the CLP’s inability to govern was impacting on delivery of AMT, Minister Elferink has made the extraordinary announcement that the whole thing has been scrapped in Tennant Creek,” Ms Fyles said.


“We saw the CLP pass amendments to AMT on urgency nearly a year ago, but they were too busy infighting to sort out the regulations and allow health professionals to refer people onto the AMT program.


“Now they’ve wasted millions of dollars on a program that everyone said wouldn’t work from the start.


“Minister Elferink says that the AMT program will be reviewed, but there has still not been an announcement about the successful tenderer for an independent evaluation of the program.


“The unworkable AMT policy has been scandal-ridden from the start. It’s our understanding that there have been zero referrals to the Darwin AMT centre for some time – is that going to be scrapped next?


“One has to wonder how John Elferink even keeps his job. In the past few months we’ve seen:

  • His wildly offensive comments directed at Seniors, during Seniors month;
  • His unacceptable bullying behaviour in threatening violence against female MLAs, which saw him disendorsed as a White Ribbon ambassador;
  • Continuing turmoil in our Corrections system, including his callous dismissal of serious allegations from Human Rights groups about the treatment of youth in detention; and
  • The utterly unbelievable debacle of the Palmerston hospital concrete pour, which would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.


“The CLP are unable to govern. They are blinded by bad politics and bad policies.


“By contrast, NT Labor's comprehensive response to alcohol substance abuse, the Banned Drinker's Register, is accepted by the community and accepted by health professionals and the police.


“A Territory Labor Government will put an end to “thought bubble” politics. We will listen and consult, gather evidence and then act.”



Media Contact: Ella Maguire 0408 773 647


CLP AMT Urgency Motion not so Urgent while Beds remain Unused
CLP AMT Urgency Motion not so Urgent while Beds remain Unused

28 October 2015 - Shadow Minister for Alcohol Policy, Natasha Fyles, said that CLP amendments passed on urgency in November 2014 to give health professionals the ability to refer Territorians to Alcohol Mandatory Treatment (AMT) facilities are still not in effect 11 months later.


“To pass something on urgency and not act on it 11 months later speaks directly to the Giles Government’s incompetence and is further proof that they can’t be trusted to perform to the most basic of functions,” said Natasha Fyles.


Back then the CLP argued the amendments on urgency were designed to “strengthen and increase the referral pathways to AMT”  - a key recommendation of a Review of the Act commissioned by the Government and delivered in March 2014.

The urgent AMT Bill sought to amend Section 8 of the Act and insert:

          (d) is, in accordance with procedures prescribed by regulation:

(i) referred by a health practitioner to a senior assessment clinician for an assessment; and

                   (ii) taken to an assessment facility


This latest error is in addition to a number of scandals associated with the establishment of this unworkable policy, including:

  • The CLP Government is only pursuing a police response to what is clearly a social problem;
  • AMT was initially established at the medi-hotel at the expense of remote patients seeking treatment and accommodation in Darwin and the secure care facility in Alice Springs was initially utilised for AMT patients instead of its required use;
  • Minister Lambley promised 182 beds in Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Gove and Katherine while Minister Elferink confirmed only 138 beds in Darwin, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek at Estimates this year;
  • The 2013/14 Annual Report shows that only 400 out of 800 projected people were treated at AMT centres showing underutilisation;
  • There was a death in care in October 2014. The Coroner was critical about the lack of procedures and the lack of an evidence base for the forced detainment of people for three months and recommended an independent evaluation, and;
  • There has still not been an announcement about the successful tenderer for an independent evaluation of the program.

“There are also claims that as a result of capital works to protective custody police facilities in Darwin, there have been zero referrals to the Darwin AMT center for some time, which means:

  • No one is being assessed at the 12 bed unit run by the Department of Health, and;
  • There are no referrals for treatment to the 78 bed facility in Berrimah, opened in late 2014.


“The incompetence of this CLP Government has left Territorians without the most basic levels of service we all rightfully expect. The sad truth is that no one trusts the CLP to follow through on anything they say.”



Media Contact: Gino Luglietti 0401 119 794


Shadow Minister for Health, Lynne Walker has called for an urgent clinical review into Alcohol Mandatory Treatment in the Northern Territory.

Ms Walker said a review was imperative following the tragic death of an AMT patient last month.

“The CLP Government previously committed to a proper review and evaluation of AMT services, not just a limited look at the legislation,” Ms Walker said.

“With Minister Robyn Lambley flagging changes to AMT legislation to be introduced to Parliament next week, Territorians should have access to the data around alcohol mandatory treatment so we can clearly see where, and if, the controversial policy is working to reduce alcohol related issues and improve client outcomes.”

“We need the hard data, which the CLP is refusing to release, to make informed decisions about AMT policy.”

“A proper, clinical review into mandatory treatment will provide the data and information needed to enhance the service and also identify areas where the providers of AMT services need support and resources.”

Ms Walker expressed her condolences to the family of the patient who passed away in care.
“AMT staff and providers are working hard to deliver a quality service and the best possible care but serious questions remain about the level of support they receive from the CLP Government and Health Department.”

“Are AMT providers receiving the support and resources they need to deal with clients who are often very sick with complex multiple health issues?”
“The whole Alcohol Mandatory Treatment plan has been subject to crafty government spin from the start.” 

“News of this patient’s untimely death was kept quiet by the government and the veil of secrecy needs to be addressed.”
“It is deeply concerning that the acting Health Minister has simply dismissed the incident as an unfortunate event that will be reviewed by the coroner at some future time.” 
“What is needed is an immediate and independent review by qualified medical specialists into the systems in place and the level of health assessment and on-going health support provided to Territorians being held for mandatory treatment,” Ms Walker said.
Media contact: Sonia Peters 0437 762 881


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