Ministerial Statement Inhalant Substance Abuse
Tabled paper 493
Tabled Papers for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled by Denis Burke
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
5 Tangentyere council is seeking to employ specific care workers to assertively work with individual families of children who are sniffing. Applications have been lodged with the Commonwealth under the Get Tough on Drugs program, which is only available to non government organisations. Territory Health Services strongly supports both applications and has been involved in preparing the submissions. However, while THS is involved in all these programs, this is a problem that requires a whole of government response. In order to achieve that the Government has adopted a strategy that has five basic goals and objectives: 1. foster strong communities; 2. provide regulatory and legislative mechanisms to penalise the misconduct related to inhalant substance abuse; 3. provide education and a heightened awareness of the effects of inhalant substance abuse; 4. co-ordinate services to maximise the effectiveness of existing and proposed programs and services; and 5. care and rehabilitate those for whom medical assistance has become necessary. The strategy does not purport to represent a complete answer to the problem. Rather it seeks to ensure that mechanisms are available to address the problem in a co-ordinated manner where it does occur. While the majority of the activity incorporated in the strategy is part of current programs some new proposals have already been identified. One such is to trial the use of community by-laws to impose treatment requirements on identified petrol sniffers. These by-laws would not require police enforcement through the creation of an offence as the criminalisation of petrol sniffing is not an option at this stage. Instead, it is considered that by-laws might aim to identify hard core juvenile sniffers and allow the community to insist they go and stay in a place administered by the community where they may be rehabilitated. This proposal obviously requires further investigation as to whether it is possible for communities to impose such sanctions. But it gives an idea of the sort of options the Government is considering in order to help communities deal with this problem. Another is to involve Aboriginal community organisations both Territory-wide and on a regional basis in the co-ordination arrangements. Indeed their involvement down to the community and family level is essential in dealing with this issue. Fostering strong communities is the first objective of the Governments strategy.