Coroners Act In the matter of Coronial Findings and Recommendation into the Death of Mr Owen King pursuant to section 46B dated 3 December 2003
Tabled paper 1290
Tabled Papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
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police officers, a 24 hour service would not necessarily provide for greater safety for the individual because clients are voluntary and can walk out of the shelter at any point o f the sobering-up process. The guidelines provide procedures for this scenario where a client who has been admitted under protective custody has their details entered in the refusal journal and police are then notified immediately. Careworkers have no powers of apprehension and therefore can only use powers of persuasion to convince the client .to remain in care. The benefit of the shelter is that it requires no legislative direction for a client to remain in care for longer periods. 45. It is difficult to understand the logic that allows sobering up shelters open some days of the week and/or some part of a day but not others. That is to say, if it is good enough to have a sobering up shelter open on Saturday then why not a Sunday, especially when there is little change in drinking habits. The proposition that it is not best practice to operative a sobering up shelter 24 hours per day (especially in Alice Springs) is questionable in my view. 46. Given the information from the Department it would appear that intoxicated people in need of care and safety, once again fall between available services. Police cells are not designed for the containment of intoxicated persons and it is not the job of a policeman to be looking after people in protective custody , yet existing sobering up shelters do not have the power (apart from persuasion) to make an intoxicated person remain in their safe environment. 47. This highlights the incredibly difficult and complex nature of the problem for our community of dealing with the results of widespread alcohol abuse. The Department of Health has advised that over the next 3-5 years the Department is proposing to refocus and expand its alcohol and other drugs services, and is currently developing a comprehensive Alcohol and Other Drugs Program Service System Strategy. Significant funding has also been allocated in the 2203/2004 budget for the Itinerants Strategy. 22
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