WA plans boot camps for addicts

Issue 

WA plans boot camps for addicts

By Stuart Munckton

PERTH — Western Australia's Liberal government is considering using "boot camps" to deal with the drug problem in the state. Under the plan, a heroin addict convicted of a criminal offence would be sent to a mobile work camp and strictly disciplined.

The plan has been condemned by drug experts, civil liberties groups and the socialist youth organisation Resistance. Curtin University addictions expert Ali Marsh insists that heroin use be treated as a medical problem, rather than a criminal one, a view supported by Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman, who argues that withdrawal from heroin, "if there has to be punishment, is punishment enough".

Alex Robinson from Resistance told Green Left Weekly that, because heroin addiction affects young people disproportionately, the government's plan is an important youth rights issue.

"This plan stands alongside the federal government's work for the dole scheme as an attempt to force young people into slave labour", he said. "Anyone with a shred of human decency will be outraged at the idea of putting drug addicts to work in militaristic boot camps while they are suffering the horrors of heroin withdrawal."