The South Australian Network of Alcohol and other Drugs (SANDAS) representing non-government alcohol and drug treatment services in South Australia, The Youth Affairs Council of SA (YACSA) and the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) have significant ongoing concerns about the Controlled Substances (Youth Treatment Orders) Amendment Bill 2019.
- Shorten the 12-month maximum period of detention to reflect the models currently used in mental health practice. The 12-month detention period is considerably longer than similar orders in any other legislation where a person has not been charged with or convicted of a crime (e.g., child protection, mental health, aged care, disability).
- Ensure that any assessment related to a mandatory treatment order is conducted and regularly reviewed by an addiction medicine specialist or specialist alcohol and other drug clinician.
- Ensure orders are reviewed or terminated at the earliest possible point by the Court with advice from the young person or their representative on application, on the medical advice of the assessing clinician, a formal ‘visitor’ appointed under the Act.
- Clarify and define that the Bill will only operate where it meets a ‘best interests of the child’ test and a clear framework that ensures that any mandatory treatment is the option of last resort.
- Ensure there are fundamental considerations of human rights incorporated into the Bill noting that young people mandated under this Act will not necessarily be subject to conviction or diversion creating substantial risks in relation to their human rights.
- Enshrine visitation rights for families, legal representatives and official visitors.
- Ensure that if there is a period of detention that this minimally interferes with ongoing education, employment, family and peer engagement and is for the shortest period necessary. Detention must be in a specialist non-correctional environment.
- That the model of care incorporates a range of interventions prior to detention which includes models of intensive family support and intervention, co-designed with alcohol and other drug treatment experts, young people and families with lived experience.
- That the model of care incorporates a post care support system that supports the young person and their family for 12 to 18 months post the order to support beneficial changes and prevent relapse.
- Institute a process of comprehensive and transparent ongoing evaluation of the program from inception and work with providers to ensure that the model is meeting the needs of young people and families. Such evaluation should be particularly aware of the unforeseen consequences that can arise out of interventions when applied to particular individuals.
- That prior to the finalisation of the model of care appropriate consultation is undertaken to ensure the cultural safety of the model with: o Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander treatment experts, Elders, families and young people o Culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
These recommendations reflect minimum changes. The alcohol and other drug treatment sector would prefer that this bill and the associated model of care are released for formal consultation prior to being proceeded with in Parliament. If this not feasible then once the model of care is defined, the government give time for the consideration of any amendments that may be required to the Bill to enable the model of care.