Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 27 November 2018.)
The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Leader of the Opposition) (11:43): I rise to speak to the bill and indicate that I will be the lead speaker for the opposition on this bill. I can indicate that when in government, under the then health minister—the now member for Croydon, Peter Malinauskas—Labor was committed to a trial of two-week mandatory treatment orders for drug-addicted adults. As health minister, the now Leader of the Opposition made it clear that we were willing and remain open to exploring options when it comes to tackling the prevalence of drug abuse and the devastating impact it has on South Australian families.
Although we do support measures aimed at combatting the prevalence of illicit drugs in the community, we have some concerns regarding the bill as it currently stands.
In particular, it is glaringly apparent that the government has not done its homework on this bill. The bill is extremely light on detail for its heavy subject matter—the introduction of a mandatory treatment regime—and leaves many questions unanswered. Now, last Thursday the government decided to file an amendment that allows them to look like they are still passing some sort of reform, when in fact, at the start of this bill, it will only apply to children who are already in training centres. The government has quietly filed this major change to the bill, hoping nobody would notice that they are desperately trying to avoid implementing their own policy.
The reason the government has done that is that they have not worked out in any way, shape or form how this policy will actually work in practice: no costings, no plans, no model of care. Sadly, it has been a trend of this government to introduce bills in an attempt to appear as if they are meeting election commitments, yet failing to do any of the necessary groundwork and consultation required to responsibly implement what their legislation enables.
Once again, we see the re-emergence of amendments within this bill to skirt the maximum two-year enactment rule for this legislation, and that in itself raises serious questions. Why would a government introduce a bill and ask parliament to consider a policy proposal, yet proactively allow over two years to implement the policy? It is beyond understanding and it shows that it has not been thought out and that there is not much commitment to the actual policy.
The opposition has received a large degree of feedback from organisations and community groups with concerns about the legislation. We have carefully considered this feedback and have filed numerous amendments in attempts to vastly improve the legislation and provide some clarity around what these orders will entail. The opposition does not oppose this bill as a measure aimed at tackling the problem of drugs in the community, but we remain concerned about the lack of detail and the potential failure of these policies due to this government's incompetence.
The opposition is looking broadly to establish a more outcomes-focused approach to these orders, an approach aimed at breaking the cycle of illicit drug use and ensuring these young people re-enter the community with as great a chance as possible of positively contributing to society. If we are serious about stopping the scourge of ice and other illicit substances in our communities, then we need to break the cycle of drug abuse for these young people.
I take the opportunity to run through several key concerns that were consistently raised by stakeholders during consultation on this bill and the direction of the opposition's amendments arising out of these concerns. Firstly, to resourcing and costs. The submissions we received clearly evidenced strong concern for the lack of resourcing and the lack of suitability within existing treatment facilities for these orders. Stakeholders are extremely concerned about the lack of clarity from the government on what additional resourcing will be provided to support this new treatment regime.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) SA said that this treatment program, even though conceived as a last resort, would be expensive and, unless additional funds are provided, it is concerned that it will result in a displacement of voluntary clients from the treatment system. The Law Society said:
It is evident from that consultation that there is a lack of affordable treatment and support services currently available…
The South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services said:
Currently the sector cannot meet the demand for place by voluntary clients. Research shows that involuntary clients require greater resources in terms of time and staffing to provide effective treatment.
The opposition has, on numerous occasions, sought information from the government on costings and plans on resourcing the proposed treatment orders regime. We keep hearing that this is a problem to be dealt with later, but if the government is willing to put this legislation before us now then it is incumbent on it to answer these questions now.
The appropriate infrastructure to deliver youth treatment orders cannot be developed as an afterthought. Sadly, the most clarity we received from the government was correspondence from the minister following a verbal briefing, which stated, and I quote, 'The assessment and treatment services to be provided under the bill are expected at this stage to be government funded pursuant to an appropriate budget allocation.' Further, 'The government has not yet made a decision on whether, or to what extent, privately-funded services will be involved in the scheme.'
These are, in the highest order, Yes Minister type responses. At this stage it is to be funded pursuant to an appropriate government budget allocation. As the health minister has been known for over recent weeks, this is something you could take straight from Yes Minister. The funding will be appropriate. What is appropriate? It is appropriate funding. Well, what sort of funding does it need? The appropriate level. It is a circular argument that gives no clarity or no assurance as to how this might work. The fact of the matter is that the complete lack of detail is far from adequate when the amount of funding and type of facilities involved are clearly among the biggest factors when envisaging how these treatment orders would work in practice.
Another area that has been raised is legal representation or rights. There has also been a great deal of concern around the rights of young people and the lack of legal representation made available to young people in the court process for granting these orders. As the Aboriginal Health Council has pointed out, 'The bill and its accompanying explanatory material make no mention of resourcing for the representation of respondents who are likely to face significant impediments to properly presenting themselves to a court.'
The bill is silent on the young person's right to appeal against or challenge orders and on the responsibility of the court to review orders on a regular basis. The Law Society put forward several suggestions on how the bill could be amended to provide clarity on the rights of the young person throughout this process. I note that the government has now introduced a number of amendments that go some way towards the society's concerns. The opposition does, however, remain of the view that the government has not gone far enough, and we will be continuing with our amendments in this respect.
In relation to medical opinion and involvement, stakeholders have also emphasised the primacy of clinical expertise and involvement in the treatment order process in the granting of orders, in treating individuals subject to orders, and in regular oversight of orders. We have also filed amendments to make legal representation available to the young person in the treatment order process. Many of our amendments focus on enshrining into legislation the standards of medical treatment available to young people subject to detention orders as well as the responsibility to plan for the young person's treatment following any detention orders. We note the amendments filed by Advance SA, SA-Best and the government and intend to consider these amendments in greater detail during the committee stage of this bill.
In summary, the opposition does not oppose the bill or what it is trying to do, as we believe in taking additional measures to prevent the scourge of drugs in our community. However, we are unsatisfied with the level of detail in this bill as it currently stands, and we remain deeply concerned as to how these treatment orders would work in practice under this government. I look forward to working through these concerns in much greater detail when this bill reaches committee stage.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL (11:53): I have added myself fairly late in the piece to the speaking list for this bill, because it is such an important matter that this parliament does need to seriously consider the direction in which it is heading. I note that the portfolio holder for the Greens in relation to this matter is my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks. She spoke at the second reading on 15 November, and I associate myself fully with her remarks. However, since then there have been a number of developments, and I wanted to take the opportunity to put them on the record.
Let me say at the outset that this is one of the most flawed and ill-conceived pieces of legislation that I have ever come across. If you are looking for an indication as to why that might be, you only have to look at the fact that every single professional body even vaguely associated with this subject matter has written to us telling us to oppose it. All of them have written to us saying that the bill is the wrong way to go, it will not achieve what it intends to achieve and it will have consequences that result in negative impacts on young people. In fact, I have not seen one submission that suggests that this bill has any redeeming features whatsoever.
The position of the Greens has always been that our preference would be to knock this bill off at the second reading and then we can get back, as a parliament, to debating sensible measures that do advance the welfare of the people of South Australia. It looks as if the bill has enough support to get through the second reading stage but that does not mean that we should then quickly proceed into committee and pass this bill before Christmas.
It is so flawed and there is so much more work to do that the Greens believe that a more sensible option is to pause for breath, and that means not proceeding through all the stages today, sending it off to a committee where it can be properly scrutinised and where different stakeholder groups, whether they be medical groups, the Youth Affairs Council, the Law Society or the charity sector through SACOSS—that we get all of these people to come in and explain to MPs in detail what is wrong with this bill and whether in fact it is at all redeemable.
I am just getting some advice on how such a process might work but in the meantime I think it is important for me to put on the record some of the most recent correspondence that has been received. I think all members would have just this morning received an email from the Australian Medical Association (South Australia) Incorporated. It is a letter addressed to all members of parliament. It is a page and a half in length but I think I need to put it on the record because it certainly sums up the concerns that the Greens have had since this bill was introduced. The letter is under the hand of Joe Hooper, Chief Executive, Australian Medical Association (South Australia). It states:
Dear Members of Parliament,
The AMA(SA) asks all members of Parliament to reject the government's deeply flawed proposal for mandatory treatment measures for young people grappling with drug issues.
The Controlled Substances (Youth treatment Orders) Bill is not only fundamentally flawed, it is potentially dangerous. It is based on a flawed premise; lacks important protections; has no medical substance; it is legally and morally questionable; and confuses medicine and social issues in its approach. Multiple groups have raised major issues with what the government has proposed and the Bill itself.
Setting aside the thoroughly problematic premise of the Bill, major questions remain unanswered. Members of Parliament may wish to attempt to improve the Bill with amendments. With respect this will not and cannot have a satisfactory outcome.
Simply rushing through unsuitable legislation and attempting to work out a model of care after the event is not an acceptable process. The Government has not addressed major questions and concerns raised about the Bill.
Models of care and the facilities for detention (outside of the juvenile justice system) are simply non-existent or undeveloped. This is legislation before treatment models, which is not defensible. We are perplexed by the approach of tasking stakeholders with helping to develop a model of care established under poor legislation. If these very parties do not support the Bill, and in fact have deep concerns about it, how are they to be tasked with making flawed legislation work, contrary to medical evidence?
If the government is seeking a 'clinically robust Model of Care' we can advise that we are aware of no such model for such a proposal as this. Mandatory measures altogether are not supported by evidence. The lack of evidence for mandatory measures, in general, was explicitly indicated in the consultation paper produced by SA Health in January 2018 in relation to a previous, much less restrictive proposal for a trial of mandatory measures, for adults, for a maximum duration of two weeks.
It has been said that full implementation of the Bill will not be achieved until the model of care and resources are developed. If this is the case, why are Members of Parliament being asked to make the Bill law? It is under-developed, not evidence based, and has no resources or budget information attached.
The diversion of resources into making this flawed Bill operational (and it won't yield results in a value for investment analysis) will only add further pressure to the funding of existing voluntary services. On the issue of 'voluntary services', our state is significantly under-resourced for drug and alcohol services and treatment centres.
So why is the government willing to detain young people with drug issues whilst not providing clear access and multiple services for those wanting voluntary treatment? We are also concerned about the lifelong impact on a young person having been detained. Also, what happens if they do not cooperate? Concerningly, this Bill is also not consistent with the recommendations of the major state inquiries, the Nyland Report, Mullighan Report and the Layton Review.
The patient group envisaged would be very complex, characterised by high rates of psychiatric co-morbidity. There would be a high number of young people in this group who have had exposure to significant adverse childhood events that would be unmasked and require a therapeutic response. Without the person's active cooperation there is unlikely to be an accurate assessment, engagement and effective treatment. The Bill also has concerning ramifications for the doctor-patient relationship, trust, and the stigmatizing of people with mental health and drug-related conditions.
The harms from this proposal have simply not been thought through. These include from combining users together, some of whom would be extremely vulnerable; stigma creation; the opportunity cost of driving people away from seeking treatment themselves voluntarily; re-traumatisation of those with trauma backgrounds forced to do things against their will; and others we can discuss.
Developing state of the art interventions for young people grappling with drug related issues is a welcome and worthy proposal if approached scientifically and with an evidence-informed approach, evaluation and published outcomes. Rushing into involuntary or custodial treatment when we do not know what benefits there will be, and what potential harms can be caused, is unacceptable, and for the above reasons the AMA(SA) strongly opposes this Bill.
I do not think that I have read a more scathing assessment of a piece of legislation by a recognised medical body as that letter that I have just put on the Hansard record. It is not exaggerating to say that the bill has no redeeming features according to the AMA, and they are not alone in their criticism. When my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks spoke on 11 October, she put on the record the concerns of some other organisations. The Youth Affairs Council and other groups had weighed in.
In the time since my colleague made her contribution, we have received other communications from stakeholder groups. I do not propose to read all those onto the record, but I think it is important that all members of parliament know how universally criticised this legislation is. For example, this Monday 3 December, the South Australian Council of Social Service wrote to the Premier. They cc'd the Minister for Health and made copies available to other members of parliament.
SACOSS was not writing just on their own behalf: they were writing as part of a coalition that had formed around opposition to this bill. The letter is co-signed by Ross Womersley, South Australian Council of Social Service; Penny Wright, the Guardian for Children and Young People; Michael White, the South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services; Simon Schrapel, Uniting Communities; and Melissa Clarke, Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement. In very similar terms, although less focused on the medical side, the submission urges the government:
…to withdraw the Bill and bring on a proper consultation to ensure we get an effective model for young people who need treatment. The government must consult with the treatment sector and our colleagues with expertise in youth mental health, family relationships, child welfare and wellbeing, and education, to design a system that meets the needs of young people, families and communities this legislation is intended to help.
The letter concludes:
We and the wider drug treatment services and other stakeholders, including families and users of current treatment services, are ready to help in designing a fit-for-purpose and more effective response to the issues faced by young people and their families.
The ideal response to these submissions being received as recently as this week is for the government to withdraw the bill and say, 'We have listened to what the stakeholders are saying. We will pause for breath, reconsider and come back with something else next year after we have consulted with the people in the sector.'
I have had no indication that the government is interested in doing that, so the next best thing is for this council to do the job that the government should have done over the last several months. If the only way that we are going to get that proper consultation is for this bill to be sent off to a committee, where all of the stakeholders can be called in to give direct evidence, then that is, I think, what we need to do.
There is support for that approach. Again, as I have said, there was a flurry of activity in the last week, and another piece of correspondence from yesterday, from Michael White, the executive officer of the South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services, or SANDAS, basically supports the idea of a proper investigation and that a parliamentary committee might be the way to do that. I do not think any of these groups are pulling their punches. Their preference is for the bill to be scrapped and for the government to go back to the drawing board. But if we are not going to be able to achieve that, then we do need to make sure that we properly scrutinise the legislation.
In some ways, this is yet another example of something that I have been banging on about for many years; that is, that the way this parliament deals with complex social legislation with multiple stakeholders is very poor. If all we do—and in most cases this is all we do—is read, as I have done, lengthy submissions onto the Hansard, and the committee of the whole is basically a bit of a question and answer session with the minister, who takes advice, that is a flawed way of processing complex legislation.
A far better approach would be for many more of these bills to go to committees, where the stakeholders can be called into the room, they can be quizzed directly, and we can ask them not only what they like or do not like about a piece of legislation but what alternative measures they think might be appropriate. I guess that is what makes this so disappointing—that the health department did undertake some consultation at the start of this year on a related provision, and apparently all of the learnings from that process have been lost.
With those brief words, the Greens' position is that we do not support the second reading of the bill, but we do support the idea of a committee. I will say that I know colleagues can be nervous about committees. Certainly, the Greens' intention would be that this would not be a committee that languished. July of next year would appear to be a very reasonable time frame for any committee to report. We showed that we could do it with the ICAC legislation. A very strict time line was imposed, and I will acknowledge the Hon. Dennis Hood; he cracked the whip and made sure that that committee did not languish and that it reported very quickly. There is no reason why a committee looking at this bill could not do exactly the same.
The Hon. T.J. STEPHENS (12:07): I move:
That the debate be adjourned.
The council divided on the motion:
|Bonaros, C.||Dawkins, J.S.L.||Hood, D.G.E.|
|Lee, J.S.||Lensink, J.M.A.||Lucas, R.I.|
|Pangallo, F.||Ridgway, D.W.||Stephens, T.J. (teller)|
|Bourke, E.S.||Darley, J.A.||Franks, T.A. (teller)|
|Hanson, J.E.||Hunter, I.K.||Maher, K.J.|
|Ngo, T.T.||Parnell, M.C.||Pnevmatikos, I.|
|Scriven, C.M.||Wortley, R.P.|
Motion thus negatived.
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (12:12): The government has received a range of feedback on the bill from a number of stakeholders, and I acknowledge that there are significant concerns. A number of those were addressed by the amendments that the government tabled at the end of last week and was seeking to address today. Measures, such as those in the bill, are not proposed lightly by the government. The bill and the proposed amendments attempt to strike the correct balance between respecting the rights and autonomy of children and our special obligation of care to protect children.
As I indicated when introducing the bill, the effective implementation of this legislative reform will require close consultation with and collaboration between health, child protection and justice sector agencies in the private and public sector. The government proposes that these stakeholders will participate in and be consulted in the development of a model of care for these services.
I make the following comments to respond to aspects of the Hon. Tammy Franks' second reading contribution. It is clear that the measures that the bill proposes are a health intervention to a serious health problem amongst our young people. These are not punitive criminalising measures. There are no offences created in the proposed legislation. Decisions are made by the Youth Court on the basis of reports from accredited drug assessment services and treatment, and it is provided to the child by accredited drug treatment services.
While a child may need to be detained to receive treatment, that is not without precedent. It is clear from the Mental Health Act 2009 and the Guardianship and Administration Act 1993 that sometimes adults and children have to be detained in their best interests to receive appropriate medical care. The Youth Court is also the appropriate jurisdiction to make these orders, given its expertise with matters concerning children, especially in its child protection jurisdiction. I can assure the Hon. Tammy Franks that there are provisions for the revocation or termination of orders in proposed section 54E of the bill, and also for appeals against the court's orders.
Proposed section 54E of the bill provides that the Youth Court may vary or revoke an assessment, treatment or detention order of its own motion if there are proceedings before the court involving the child or young person, or an application by a person referred to in section 54B. This includes persons authorised by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Commissioner of Police, the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection, the Public Advocate, a medical practitioner who is providing treatment to the child or young person in relation to their drug use, a family member or a person who satisfies the court that he or she has a proper interest.
Proposed section 54E also provides that the child or young person may apply for variation or revocation of an order but only with the permission of the Youth Court. The bill specifies that this permission is only to be granted if the Youth Court is satisfied that there has been substantial change in the relevant circumstances since the order was made or last varied. Also, the orders of the Youth Court can be appealed to the Supreme Court. If the order is made by the judge of the court, the appeal is made to the Full Court of the Supreme Court. If the order is made by another judicial officer of the Youth Court, such as a magistrate or judicial registrar, the appeal is to the Supreme Court constituted of a single judge. These appeal provisions are in section 22 of the Youth Court Act 1993 and do not need to be in this bill.
I take this opportunity to also address issues raised in the contribution of the Hon. Connie Bonaros. I welcome SA-Best's support for the government's proposed initiative; however, we will not be supporting their amendments to extend these proposed laws to adults. The government's commitment is to protect children and provide families with a legal option to support their children who are experiencing drug dependency. Depriving a child of their liberty to protect them and others from the harms of drug use should only be used as a last resort, and the government does not take this responsibility lightly.
We are committing to a three-year review in terms of the progress of the legislation and evaluating the outcomes. Only then can we see what is working and consider what may need to change. I note that the Hon. Mr Darley has made an amendment to remove cannabis from the list of drugs upon which an application can be based. The government argues that that should be a matter left to the court, with input from relevant assessment services and medical evidence on whether a child should be subject to orders in respect of any particular controlled drug.
Finally, in relation to the amendments filed by the Leader of the Opposition I would say that, whilst we support the intention of the majority of the changes, the government prefers its own approach. This includes the range of increased protections that the government will be proposing to ensure that the best interests of children, who may be the subject of the legislation, is the paramount consideration of our commitment. I also take this opportunity to thank parliamentary counsel, the staff from Legislative Services within the Attorney-General's Department, and the staff of DASSA.
I understand that there is interest in the council for this matter to be referred to a select committee. Before members consider taking that step, I would like to remind them of the context. This bill was tabled on 21 June 2018, which is five months ago. There has been plenty of time to scrutinise, yet on the last day it has been suggested that it should be referred to a committee. The government has a strong mandate for this bill. We took a clear policy to the election. We have actively defended the policy from attacks from stakeholders before and after the election. South Australian voters voted for this government, with all stakeholders' perspectives laid down.
A recent Sunday Mail poll showed that 97.5 per cent of respondents supported mandatory drug assessment and treatment, and 80 per cent supported mandatory treatment. The reason for that is that South Australians are extremely concerned about the negative effect that drugs are having on our society. For many people who are addicted to drugs, they seem to be unable to realise the magnitude of the risk at which they are placing themselves and others.
From time to time people need a circuit-breaker. That is exactly the phrase that Belinda Valentine used when she supported this legislation. She said that detention can provide a circuit-breaker to dangerous behaviour, and that it is just what her daughter may well have benefited from. The head of the Parole Board, Frances Nelson, said she also supported the legislation and that:
…removing drug affected people from bad influences gave them a chance to work through their issues. Most people don't want to acknowledge that they have a problem with drugs so they are not going to go voluntarily.
The Youth Court judge has also indicated her support for the legislation, stating that it would be a useful order available to the court. The government is committed to protecting young people from the scourge of drugs. It is what drug-dependent children need, and it is what parents have been asking for. We have a particular responsibility for children and young people. They are more vulnerable, they have less insight, and they are in the very situation where early intervention is so important.
The evidence shows that if a young person becomes involved with illicit drugs, their risk of becoming involved in substance abuse at deeper levels later in age and the impact on their mental health is increased. I also want to make clear that, in spite of the demonisation of this bill, the legislation is about a range of tools. It is about assessment, treatment and detention. I believe the focus by stakeholders on the detention aspect fundamentally avoids the choice that the government is really asking the parliament to consider; that is, whether or not the state parliament is willing to authorise involuntary treatment, assessment or detention.
We have already made that decision in relation to other legislation. We have made it in relation to child protection. In recent years, the courts have been able to order an assessment of parents and their drug dependence in the context of considering the safety of children. So let's not be morally pure saying that we will never consider mandatory assessment, treatment or detention—we are already doing it. The government does accept that there are significant concerns with stakeholders but much of that concern is based on misconceptions of the proposal that we believe need to be worked through as an evidence-based, clinically robust model of care is developed.
I believe the proposal to take it to a select committee is just an attempt by the stakeholders and their parliamentary support to undermine the issue of mandatory assessment, treatment and detention by putting up Frankenstein models that no rational government would put forward. This government is committed to taking the time to develop an evidence-based, robust model of care, but there is no point in doing that if we do not have the support of this parliament for mandatory assessment, treatment and detention.
For example, if this parliament was to amend this legislation today, to give the government the legislative authority to proceed with a model of care that only provided for mandatory assessment and treatment, then that would be a decision of the parliament and the government would craft its model of care within those limitations. Of course it makes sense to get the legislative mandate for the scope of the model of care and then to do the model of care. That is what this legislation proposes, and that is what the government is putting forward.
Those members who support this being deferred and, in my view, sabotaged by a select committee, need to ask themselves: are they really wanting to take off the table involuntary treatment, assessment or detention for South Australia going forward? Because that is exactly the choice that you are faced with. This vote is not about a select committee or not; it is about whether or not this state is willing to take some hard decisions.
If the parliament is not willing to make the hard decision today, I do not have any hope that it will be able to make the hard decision in July. The people of South Australia will be watching this vote today to see which political groups are willing to keep trying with the same old tools that have failed us decade after decade, and which political parties are willing to try something new.
Let's look at some of the people who are trying something new. Currently, there are four Australian jurisdictions that have mandatory assessment, treatment or detention provisions. In recent weeks, the Western Australian Labor government committed to a mandatory detention program for adults. Some members might say, 'That's for adults not for children.' What about New South Wales Labor? In the last couple of weeks, New South Wales Labor has put out a policy that provides for mandatory treatment for children.
That means there are four jurisdictions that currently have such schemes, including New South Wales and Victoria. Western Australia is about to join them. What is the South Australian parliament saying? In spite of an overwhelming consensus of Australian jurisdictions that, in the context of the battery of tools that we need to deal with the scourge of drugs, from time to time we need involuntary assessment, treatment or detention, South Australia says, 'No, no. We're going fine, thanks. Drugs are not a problem here.' Well, drugs are a problem here. This is focused on illicit drugs. It is focused on the best interests of children, and you are seeking to sabotage it at its first hurdle. You will be held accountable for that.
I believe it is a totally false dichotomy to talk about whether it is voluntary or involuntary. Therapists tell me that most people engage in therapy due to some form of coercion. It might be the demands of their partner. It might be the threats of child protection action. It is exactly the sort of coercion we use that makes the court diversion system work. The fact of the matter is that we need to have involuntary tools—treatment, assessment and detention—that can complement the voluntary tools. People go on different journeys, and to say that the voluntary pathway is the only pathway I think fails to deal with the complexity of individual journeys.
The suggestion by some stakeholders is that this reform is not supported by the evidence. The fact of the matter is that you have to look at what the model of care will be. There are incredibly diverse models of care operating around the world in this regard. I refer honourable members to the Churchill Fellowship work by Victorian magistrate Jennifer Bowles, who in 2014 went to a range of treatment facilities around the world.
There are facilities in Sweden, Scotland, England and New Zealand. Fundamentally, they are therapeutic communities. They are not custodial facilities, but they are an important opportunity for young people to have a circuit-breaker so that they can deal with their drug addiction. If this parliament is going to refer this to a select committee, let's be clear, this parliament is saying, 'We are not even willing to cross the Rubicon. We are not even willing to consider involuntary treatment, and we don't even want you to look at models of care that might work. We just want to take that tool off the table.'
You can dress it up all you like, but this government will be clear. We will be pursuing our election mandate, and we will be holding the parliamentary groups that support any reference to a select committee accountable for a timidity in not accepting the mandate of the government, the clear will of the South Australian people. They do not even want to give models of care a chance.
|Bonaros, C.||Bourke, E.S.||Dawkins, J.S.L.|
|Hanson, J.E.||Hood, D.G.E.||Hunter, I.K.|
|Lee, J.S.||Lensink, J.M.A.||Lucas, R.I.|
|Maher, K.J.||Ngo, T.T.||Pangallo, F.|
|Pnevmatikos, I.||Ridgway, D.W.||Scriven, C.M.|
|Stephens, T.J.||Wade, S.G. (teller)||Wortley, R.P.|
|Darley, J.A.||Franks, T.A. (teller)||Parnell, M.C.|
While the division was being held:
The PRESIDENT: Member of the gallery, it is not appropriate to take photographs of people seated.
Second reading thus carried.
Standing Orders Suspension
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (12:34): I move:
That standing orders be so far suspended as to enable the bill to be referred to a select committee.
The council divided on the motion:
|Bourke, E.S.||Darley, J.A.||Franks, T.A. (teller)|
|Hanson, J.E.||Hunter, I.K.||Maher, K.J.|
|Ngo, T.T.||Parnell, M.C.||Pnevmatikos, I.|
|Scriven, C.M.||Wortley, R.P.|
|Bonaros, C.||Dawkins, J.S.L.||Hood, D.G.E.|
|Lee, J.S.||Lensink, J.M.A.||Lucas, R.I.|
|Pangallo, F.||Ridgway, D.W.||Stephens, T.J.|
|Wade, S.G. (teller)|
The PRESIDENT: There being 11 ayes and 10 noes, there being no absolute majority for the ayes, it passes in the negative. The standing orders will not be suspended.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: It will come as no surprise that the Greens are disappointed that the government is afraid of a select committee on this bill and is afraid to put their proposition before what they called the stakeholders at one point, and fly in the face of particularly the AMA and the South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services. My first question to the minister on this bill is: has he met with the AMA of South Australia, who called for this bill to be referred to a select committee, and understood their concerns?
Has he met with the South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services, the very people who will be required largely to implement this bill with regard to their concerns, because certainly he did not want to have a select committee to have a proper debate on this bill? Can he please inform us of what conversations he has had with those groups and what measures he has undertaken to address their significant, substantial and serious concerns?
The Hon. S.G. WADE: I have certainly met with both SANDAS and the AMA. After all, this legislation was tabled in June and I have met with both of them a number of times since. We both understand our positions. The government is committed to getting the legislated authority reflecting its electoral mandate, and the model of care will be developed, including with those stakeholders and others. I believe their concerns will be assuaged as we develop a model of care that keeps the focus on the best interests of the child in a therapeutic model.
The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS: Many commentators in relation to this bill are concerned about the lack of medical or scientific evidence to support the proposals in the bill and that it may lead to harm. To what extent has the government taken those factors into account in terms of the risks of harm?
The Hon. S.G. WADE: There is certainly a range of academic evidence which goes both ways. I think many stakeholders have lacked honesty in the way that they have presented the academic research. There is academic research which supports both perspectives and they are the issues that we would work through in the models of care, involving the stakeholders, involving government officers and a whole range of government agencies.
The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS: The bill does not appear to include or specify any treatment to address trauma or underlying medical health issues which may have led to the drug or alcohol use. Why were they not included?
The Hon. S.G. WADE: SA Health and DASSA continue to provide services on a trauma-informed basis, and that will ensure that any treatment includes assessment of the underlying trauma that may be related to drug or substance abuse.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: A supplementary for the minister: how equipped are the people who will undertake this treatment, under this quite harsh scheme, to deal with child sexual abuse? What skills will they have in that area? What if the child sexual abuse has been undertaken within the very family that refers the child and the child is self-medicating to deal with that sexual abuse? What measures will that child have for some recourse, some respite and some respect?
The Hon. S.G. WADE: The staff of DASSA, the government agency related to drugs and alcohol, are well trained in trauma-informed care. In relation to child sexual abuse and the potential applicant being the family, I would stress that the applicants are not the family alone: the orders are made by the Youth Court. In government amendments that we will consider shortly, the best interest of the child is made the paramount consideration.
Again, the stakeholders in opposition to this bill have tried to cast it as a punitive measure: it is not. It is a therapeutic approach, and decisions will be made by the Youth Court. They may well be considering matters in the youth justice framework at the same time, but any assessment, treatment or detention order made under this act will not relate to punitive matters. It will only deal with therapeutic matters.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: As of this week, can the minister inform the council just how many rehab beds are currently available for children, and what is the level of unmet need, the demand that is not able to be met, with those particular beds?
The Hon. S.G. WADE: I am advised that there are currently six residential beds dedicated to children. They are operated by Centacare as a statewide service, and we are not aware of a significant waiting list in relation to that service.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: How are those waiting lists kept?
The Hon. S.G. WADE: The service provider manages the waiting list, but they are expected to advise DASSA of any operational issues that arise.
The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS: The reality is that currently the availability of voluntary treatment services in South Australia for children and young people who are alcohol or drug dependent is seriously inadequate. There is no discussion or plans, certainly in the bill, to improve access to these services. Will there be government investment in this area?
The Hon. S.G. WADE: This is the false dichotomy that I was referring to earlier. What the Labor Party is suggesting here is that we should not provide any involuntary treatment options until we have—
The Hon. I. Pnevmatikos: The Labor Party is not suggesting anything. I just asked a question.
The Hon. S.G. WADE: Excuse me, I would like to answer the question. The Labor Party's position here—
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Point of order, Mr Chair: the speaker was imputing a motive to another member. That is contrary to our standing orders, so she had every right to interject, I believe.
The Hon. S.G. WADE: I have every right to make clear that the Labor Party—
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: You do not have a right to impute a motive to another member of this council.
The CHAIR: The Hon. Ms Franks, I take the point. Minister, be careful with your language.
The Hon. S.G. WADE: The reference was to the Labor Party, and the Labor Party clearly continues to oppose involuntary treatment. They voted down a similar bill in opposition, and they are continuing their campaign even though this government has a mandate. Let me address the false dichotomy that the Labor Party continues to put forward, that somehow you cannot provide involuntary options—
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Point of order: I am not sure that the Labor Party asked a question. I do know that there are 22 members of this council, none of whom are called 'the Hon. Labor Party'.
The PRESIDENT: The point, the Hon. Ms Franks, is the minister is making every effort to refer to the Labor Party as a collective.
The Hon. S.G. WADE: It was the Labor Party that voted out a very similar bill to this in the last parliament, and they are continuing their campaign. That is plain for the South Australian community to see, and they can defend that in the public space, as will the Greens, as will the Hon. Mr Darley, who even voted against this bill at the second reading—quite extraordinary.
The false dichotomy being put forward is that you cannot have voluntary treatment and involuntary treatment available in the same space, that you cannot fund an involuntary service until all voluntary services are fully subscribed, until you have met all demand in every context. What people need to understand is—
The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS: Point of order: I do not understand the relevance of the answer. All I am asking is: is the government intending to invest in a program that assists in treatment? That is all I am asking.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Pnevmatikos, we are in committee, so it is a slightly different way we proceed. You can make the point, but it is not technically a point of order. The minister can respond as he chooses, and you can continue to ask the questions. So we are much more flexible. The trade-off is that the minister gets to have his say, but you can continue to ask the question and tease out further answers—we are more flexible here, which is the nature of the debate—and I encourage you to do so.
The Hon. S.G. WADE: Year after year the Labor Party is trying to promote this false dichotomy in opposing these treatment orders and any form of treatment orders. In this regard the government will continue to develop services, continue to fund services, but we are going to have a blend of voluntary and involuntary services.
The former Labor government was forced to amend the child protection legislation to provide for involuntary assessment in relation to child protection; they are now continuing their fight by opposing it in relation to general drug use, but we assert that every person is different. Some people need a circuit-breaker, and for many, I suspect most, the circuit-breaker will not be the more significant orders, they will be orders like assessment.
Often, a young person who lacks insight into their own situation, who is vulnerable because of perhaps a range of circumstances and who, to be frank, is less mature than an adult by definition, will need a circuit-breaker. For many it may just be an assessment. It may be that being sent off to an assessment service might be the circuit-breaker they need to realise how much risk they are under and to be given the opportunity to stop and think.
If that is not enough, the Youth Court may well have to consider treatment options and detention options, but the demonisation of this bill by the opposition and by stakeholders misrepresents it. This is a bill that is, as a matter of law, focused on the best interests of the child and the therapeutic model. All of the stakeholders, even those that oppose this bill, will be invited to be part of a discussion about: if this bill is supported by the parliament, what tools, what models, what services would best be used in South Australia to add to the range of services that are currently available to provide the best possible outcome for South Australian children and young people at risk?
The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS: Minister, if you could please address the issue of what sort of additional investment is being allocated for both voluntary and the proposed mandatory treatment services for children and young people?
The Hon. S.G. WADE: I will be shortly going into another budget round within the cabinet process for funding for the next financial year. If this legislation was passed today, it would obviously then need to be considered by the House of Assembly next year and the model of care developed. It will take time to develop the model of care and for the level of funding required, but the government will continue to invest in both voluntary and involuntary services to make sure that there is an appropriate blend of services and that within the constraints of the state's fiscal situation we invest as we are able in care for young people. In that regard, the most recent budget included funding for community-based rehabilitation services in the Riverland and we will continue to look at new services as we are able.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I thank the minister for the sort of answers to some of the questions and note that he has assured the council that this is being considered in the next budget round. Obviously, if it is being considered in the next budget round, there has been some preliminary work done on costings. The minister really ought to let the chamber know what the actual costings are, but I might ask initially some of the basis of how you could even work out the costings and if the government even has a basic idea about how you might work out the costings. My first question is: what is an estimate or at least a range of the number of children the government anticipates will be covered by these orders?
The Hon. S.G. WADE: With all due respect to the leader, my comments about the next budget round were in relation to voluntary services. The legislation will not be able to be passed by the House of Assembly until at least February. Obviously, it will not have time to lay on the table to have consideration by that house. Then, we are intending that the legislation, having had the legislative mandate, would form the basis of an interagency working group engaging a range of stakeholders to develop the model of care. As I mentioned earlier, the models used internationally are very much like a home-like environment. We are not talking about building another youth training centre. This is about assessment, treatment and detention if required in an appropriate therapeutic environment.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: Again, this is legislation the minister is bringing to this chamber. Is the minister trying to tell us he has no clue whatsoever initially, and then when it applies to children who are not already detained, how many children may be covered by these orders? Is he saying his department has done absolutely no modelling whatsoever and they have absolutely no idea the numbers that might be involved? Is that really what he is telling us?
The Hon. S.G. WADE: Before I address some health data, I would just like to quote from an email in relation to this, where I am advised that the Youth Court judge, Penny Eldridge, said:
Whilst I do not anticipate many youth treatment orders being made, it would be beneficial having the power to make such orders.
In their latest report, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare identified that 1,579 episodes of care were provided to young people aged 10 to 19 in South Australia during the 2016-17 financial year. I want to clarify for the council that that is 1,579 episodes of care. It is not clear from that how many individuals we are referring to. Considering that we have six residential rehab beds, we are talking about this being a last resort where people are at significant risk of harm. In regard to the numbers of children, as the Youth Court judge indicated, we do not anticipate there will be many treatment orders, and in particular many youth detention orders.
The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I thank the minister for informing us that they have no idea not just how the bill will actually work in practice, but how many it might apply to—which is an extraordinary thing—but what is the estimated cost per treatment order under the bill that the government has arrived at?
The Hon. S.G. WADE: The Leader of the Opposition is trying to construct a straw person, putting the cart before the horse. The bill is about the parliament giving the government authorisation to develop models of care that deal with child and youth assessment, treatment and detention.
Progress reported; committee to sit again.
Sitting suspended from 13:01 to 14:15.