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A doctor who played a key role in establishing the Northern Territory Government's new Mandatory alcohol rehabilitation program has quit in protest at the way the program has been run, as well as the treatment of Aboriginal drinkers. The expert in addictive medicine says he hopes his decision to speak out will prompt the Government to re-think its reluctance to stem the flow of alcohol in the Territory.
Lee Nixon has been a doctor for three decades, including 20 years as an addictive medicine specialist. He agreed to help set up the mandatory rehab program to make sure it was done properly, but now he's packing his bags in protest and heading home to New Zealand. 'It (the program) was pushed through to begin on first of July, as the Government wanted, and that meant that any sense of carefully planning assessment for it was abandoned. The grave concern is that here we are, essentially incarcerating people for three months, who have committed no crime. A large number of them had little understanding of the process, and at the end of the time when they were there, were still asking, "Why am I here?"', Dr Nixon said.
Despite a lack of evidence, the Territory Government is convinced mandatory treatment will work.