Rhonda Parker

Rhonda Parker


    Need for national drug diversion model to be consistent with State strategy

    10/06/1999 3:26 PM

    The Minister Responsible for WA Drug Abuse Strategy, Rhonda Parker, speaking from the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy in Sydney today, has confirmed that any national drug diversion model would have to be consistent with current State drug abuse strategy priorities.

    In April this year, the Council on Australian Government reached in principle agreement to work towards a nationally consistent approach to drug diversion, involving coercion of offenders into compulsory assessment and treatment.

    “While supporting the principle of engaging offenders into treatment in a more effective way, Western Australia will not support any approach where the requirement to undergo treatment as part of a diversion model would be a simple formality,”
    Mrs Parker said.

    “At today’s meeting the States, Territories and the Commonwealth did not reach agreement on the 20 key components of the proposal put forward, with the Ministers deciding only to note them.

    “The State Government expressed concern over a number of issues, including the level of commitment to treatment after diversion and the proposed consequences for non-compliance.

    “While the State Government is currently looking at a range of strategies to more effectively engage offenders into treatment, it reconfirmed its position that all criminal penalties have to be retained for those who do not comply with the diversion conditions which are yet to be determined.

    “The meeting resolved that the national approach will ensure local flexibility and take into account the particular needs and priorities of individual jurisdictions.

    “Concern was also expressed about the adequacy of Commonwealth funding to provide effective treatment services for those diverted into the program.”

    Mrs Parker said she was looking forward to addressing these issues in bilateral discussions with the Commonwealth. A progress report on these discussions would be presented to COAG in October.

    Meanwhile, the Minister starts a visit to Sweden, Switzerland and Italy today to examine a range of drug and alcohol abuse programs ahead of finalising the State’s second two-year plan against drug abuse due for release later this year.

    “The drug policies and services in Sweden, which have had some success, will be examined first-hand, while self-supporting residential therapeutic centres for drug dependents in Italy will be visited with the Catholic Archbishop of Perth, the Most Reverend Barry Hickey,” she said.

    “In Switzerland, I will be speaking to a number of officials and service providers regarding the Swiss heroin trial in light of the recently released WHO assessment.”

    Media contact: Owen Cole 9481 7810