Media Release

05 March 2018

Guy-Wooldridge: Mandatory Drug treatment to give families hope and keep communities safe

Monday 5 March 2018

Mandatory Drug treatment to give families hope and keep communities safe

A Liberal National Government will introduce mandatory residential drug and alcohol treatment for young people whose offending or risky behaviour is a result of substance abuse.

The new Youth Therapeutic Order will enable mandatory drug and alcohol treatment to be ordered by the Children’s Court for young people in the justice or child protection system.

Treatment will be delivered in a new $30 million 36-bed secure drug and alcohol treatment facility, which will cost approximately $20 million per year to operate when up and running.

This will provide an alternative treatment pathway for young offenders who would otherwise be incarcerated without access to comprehensive drug treatment to assist them in turning their lives around.

In Victoria, the only drug and alcohol treatment available for young people is voluntary. If this treatment fails and offending continues, families are left to watch their children self-destruct in a system where neither the Courts nor families have the power to ensure that children get the treatment they need to address their addiction.

Children’s Court Magistrate Jennifer Bowles has developed the model as part of her Churchill Fellowship, and features include:

  • Young people aged 15-17 who are before the Children’s Court are eligible
  • They have offending behaviour and/or are at risk of harm to themselves or others as a result of substance abuse
  • They will be clinically assessed for suitability including if other voluntary treatment options have been unsuccessful
  • They will be placed on a Youth Therapeutic Order in a 36-bed purpose-built community with 5 secure and step-down units
  • Treatment is mandatory and individual treatment plans are developed reflecting an individual young person’s needs
  • The Court will receive a minimum of monthly updates to monitor progress and the order will need to be renewed after 3 months
  • Average length of stay is expected to be 4-6 months and placement in the secure unit would be for the shortest time possible. It is unlikely young people will require secure units for more than 6 months, and most for much less
  • Treatment will include initial detox and withdrawal, intensive therapeutic treatment in a secure and then step-down facilities, re-engagement with Education and support transitioning back to the community
  • If an Order is breached and treatment not completed then all other sanctions are back in consideration
  • In addition to the Court, independent oversight will be undertaken by the Commission for Children and Young People
  • All Victorian children are eligible, but it will be run through the Melbourne Children’s Court

The current system is clearly not working, 87% of young offenders have a history or drug and/or alcohol abuse and 82% had offended while under the influence.

Only a Liberal Nationals Government will deal with the threat of substance abuse and help young people turn their lives around, even if it means a mandatory secure intervention for those who are caught in the cycle of drug dependence and abuse.

Comments attributed to Leader of the Opposition, Matthew Guy:

“This new approach will give affected families hope and it will help make our state safer.

“I believe we need to be tough but compassionate with these kids and help them have a second chance.

“This will give hundreds of Victorian families with children with serious drug addictions real hope for a better future.”

Comments attributed to Shadow Minister for Health, Mary Wooldridge:

“With drug related youth crime spiralling out of control now is the time to be bold with ideas and solutions to turn things around.

“More of the same from Daniel Andrews isn’t going to cut it.  When it comes to dealing with the Ice crisis we need to be smarter, tougher and when needed compassionate.”

Comments attributed to Shadow Minister for Families and Children, Georgie Crozier:

“The current youth justice system is clearly not working so we need to be open to new ways of working to improve the safety of young people, their families and our community as a whole.”