NT's Mandatory Alcohol Act called 'racist'

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The treatment of people with alcohol problems in the Northern Territory has been called into question after Senator Nova Peris labelled NT legislation racist and ineffective.

The Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Act was implemented over a year ago and has received heavy criticism.

“It's pretty much a racist act isn't it to have 400 people placed into an institution rehabilitation centre that tries to rehabilitate Aboriginal people that's been deemed ineffective,” Senator Peris said.

Under the laws, which were implemented in July last year, if a person is placed in protective custody for public drunkenness three times in less than two months they can face up to 12 weeks of mandatory treatment at a rehabilitation facility. 

Attempts to abscond the facility can result in criminal charges.

Mark O'Reilly from the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Service says, “It flies in the face of recommendations of the royal commission into deaths in custody for example, we shouldn’t be going anywhere near criminalising alcohol dependence.” 

Labor is calling for the legislation to be scrapped. 

"What we've been calling for is the reinstatement of the banned drinker register," Senator Peris said.

The Northern Territory Health Minister, Robyn Lambley, says the Act is still being rolled out. 

"I know from people working within those facilities ... they dont think that asking people to not abscond more than twice is unreasonable."

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