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Health & treatment system


Before the commencement of the Western Australian Alcohol and Drug Authority (WAADA) in November 1974, which was established by the Alcohol & Drug Authority Act 1974, short term treatment at publicly operated inpatient health services for those dependent on alcohol & other drugs in WA had been available at Royal Perth Hospital's (RPH) psychiatric ward. Those suffering from acute effects of alcohol or other drugs could also be admitted on a short term basis at emergency departments located at RPH or the other two major adult teaching hospitals, Fremantle Hospital & Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Prior to the 1970s the State's mental health system had been the primary public provider of services for those experiencing mental disorders stemming from the acute use of alcohol, drugs (eg drug induced psychoses) or those affected by mental disorders such as dependence, delerium tremens or Korsakov's psychosis, caused by longer term chronic use of alcohol.

Historically, from colonial times, the mental health system had assumed a custodial function in relation to those acutely affected alcohol at the Fremantle Asylum (as well as Fremantle prison), when drunkenness was regarded as a temporary form of insanity, a role which continued at Claremont Asylum from 1903 & after the closure of Fremantle Asylum by 1908. The committal of those with alcohol-related mental disorders to the Claremont Asylum occurred up to the mid 1960s through powers under the Lunacy Act 1903 and the Inebriates Act 1912. (The inebriates legislation was repealed in 1962 by the Mental Health Act 1962.)

However, whereas committal of those with alcohol & other drug-related mental disorders was adopted for admissions to Claremont Asylum (which was renamed Graylands Hospital in the early 1970s), voluntary admission to the State's other major mental health facility, Heathcote Hospital, occurred under a different piece of legislation, the Mental Treatment Act 1927.

WA Alcohol & Drug Authority: 1975/1976 - 1997/1998

The operation of the WAADA from the mid 1970s marks the development of a system of specialist treatment services in Western Australia (WA). This system initially involved a combination of programs consisting of a designated publicly operated short-stay inpatient detoxification hospital, longer term rehabilitation programs at two other hospitals & an outpatient clinic. However, since the 1990s the role of the public system has been replaced by a system of residential & non-residential programs operated by non-government organisations (NGOs) in both the metropolitan area & a number of regional centres, which are substantially reliant on public funding through managed contracts.

As the WAADA is a statutory body, in theory, it operates independently & reports directly to the Minister for Health. Up until September 2008 the WAADAD reported to the Minister for Health & since the election of the Barnett Liberal government in September 2008, has reported to the Minister for Mental Health.

Although all members of the Board are appointed by the Minister, this meant for a number of years it operated as a defacto specialist sub-agency in the Department of Health (DOH) portfolio & more recently as an agency linked to the Mental Health Commission through the Minister for Mental Health.

There have been a number of major reforms by both Labor & Liberal (ie conservative) governments since the early 1990s which have reshaped the role of the WAADA. These reforms have resulted in the almost complete withdrawal of Government as a specialist provider of treatment services, such that now the WAADA undertakes a limited role as the operator of a short term inpatient medical detoxification facility in Moore Street, East Perth. This is known as Next Step Specialist Drug & Alcohol Services (see below).

Since the mid 1990s the WAADA has increasingly concentrated on training, the funding of services provided by NGOs & oversight of large community based education programs concerned with alcohol & other drugs (except tobacco control), supported by targetted preventive measures. These shifts in public programs towards preventive programs have been implemented through administrative rather legislative reforms & mean the statutory arrangement that underpins the WAADA remains unchanged from when the legislation was passed in 1974.

The changes in administrative arrangements in WA since 1974, as well as developments in services & policies, can be found in departmental annual reports, including organisational changes to provide and fund alcohol & other drug services.

Annual reports of the WAADA were issued for the following financial years:

Next Step Specialist Drug & Alcohol Services: 1998/1999 - 2001/2002

The policy, funding & service provider roles undertaken by the WAADA as distinct from its residual clinical role, is emphasised by the registration in April 1999 of the title of Next Step Specialist Drug & Alcohol Services under the Business Names Act 1962. This specifically refers to the WAADA's facility in East Perth, which primarily functions as a short term detoxification program, with the remainder of non-clinical & administrative services located at Carrellis Centre in Field Street Mount Lawley.

Annual reports were issued under the name of Next Step Specialist Drug & Alcohol Services for the following financial years:

Health Department of WA: 1997/1998 - 2001/2002

In 1 July 1994, as a consequence of management reforms of the WA health system introduced by the Court Liberal Government, the functions of the WAADA were reduced to that of a service provider. These reforms created the State Health Purchasing Authority (SHPA), which operated as a sub-agency within the Department of Health (DOH), to reflect the separation of purchasing of services from the provision of a wide range of health-related services. This was referred to as the Funder Owner Purchaser Provider (FOPP) model for funding of health services outside of the public hospital system.

As well as the transfer of the WAADA's responsibility for purchasing services to the SHPA, a specialist area with the DOH was established, which over the period between the 1997/1998 to 2001/2002 was variously named as the:

  • Drug & Alcohol Policy & Planning Unit (DAPPU) - within the Mental Health Division
  • Alcohol & Drug Policy & Planning Section (ADPPS) - within the Mental Health Division
  • Alcohol & Other Drug Program (AODP) - within the Mental Health & Public Health Divisions
Details of activities of the DAPPU, the ADPPS & the AODP are contained in the excerpts (below) from DOH annual reports for the years 1997/1998 to 2001/2002.

WA Drug Abuse Strategy Office: 1997/1998 - 2000/2001

The WA Drug Abuse Strategy Office (WADASO) was established in June 1997 following a recommendation in the Task Force on Drug Abuse for there to be a central agency (which had suggested this be called the Central Drug Coordinating Office) specifically responsible for drug policy in WA.

WADASO was located in the Ministry of Premier & Cabinet & reported directly to the Premier who had assumed the position as Minister Responsible for Drug Strategy, with the transfer of funding of alcohol & other drug services throughout the State from the SHPA to the WADASO when it was formed.

In June 1998 WADASO was transferred to a new Minister Responsible for Drug Strategy. As this Minister was concurrently the Minister for Family & Children's Service (FCS), WADASO was administered as part of FCS portfolio & accordingly was included as a section of the FCS annual reports for the years 1997/1998, 1998/1999 & 1999/2000. The relevant sections of these annual reports have been excerpted.

Click on the following links to view or download excerpts of sections of FCS annual reports concerned with WADASO up to 1999/2000. A separate WADASO annual report was published for the financial year 2000/2001.

In July 2000 WADASO was removed from the FCS administrative structure & became a stand alone agency under the Financial Administration & Audit Act 1985. It submitted its only annual report for the 2001/2002 year, as it ceased to exist as a separate agency after 30 June 2002, when the Drug & Alcohol Office (DAO) was established.

Drug & Alcohol Office: 2002/2003 - present

The Drug & Alcohol Office (DAO) commenced on 1 July 2002 by consolidating a number of functions formerly undertaken by the:

  • Alcohol & Other Drug Program (part of the Population Health Division in the DOH)
  • Alcohol & Drug Policy Branch (part of the Mental Health Division in DOH)

Note: The first annual report of the Drug & Alcohol Office, for the year 2001/2002, was published under the title of Next Step.

The descriptor of DAO encompasses the WAADA's non clinical as well as clinical functions (delivered as Next Step). This means annual reporting of the WAADA from 2002/2003 has been published under the title of Drug & Alcohol Office. (Annual reports state that the 'Drug & Alcohol Office is the 'business name' of WAADA whereas the Next Step Drug & Alcohol Services is the 'trading name' of DAO.)

The July 2002 consolidation also sought to combine within one agency the alcohol prevention & community education/awareness campaigns which were overseen by the Department of Health's Public Health Division. The Health Promotion Services Branch had developed a number of these campaigns, such as the notable Drinksafe Campaign, launched in March 1988.

Annual reports for the years 2002/2003 onwards may be available from the Drug & Alcohol Office website here.

Law enforcement system


The enforcement of liquor licensing offences had been routinely carried out by the police in WA until the late 1980s. However, this changed as result of administrative changes stemming from the abolition of the Liquor & Gaming Branch in June 1989 & the passage of the Liquor Control Act 1988 (LCA), which enabled former police powers in relation to licensed premises & breaches of the LCA to be performed by the Department of Racing, Gaming & Liquor (DRGL). In December 1989 the DRGL undertook the issuing of infringement notices for a range of offences, such as drinking alcohol in a street or public place, which previously had been dealt with exclusively by the police.

Another change in the policing of alcohol intoxication flowed from the decriminalisation of drunkenness by the Acts Amendment (Detention of Drunken Persons) Act 1989, which amended the Police Act 1892 & the Child Welfare Act 1947. The decriminalisation reform commenced when the legislation was proclaimed on 27 April 1990, supported by the gradual development of sobering up centres (SUCs) mostly located in remote & regional areas of the State, which have been largely utilised by Indigenous people.

The provision of SUCs was explicitly developed as separate from both the public health & other medical services & to only provide short-stay accommodation on an overnight basis.

WA Police

As the WA police have performed a long standing role in managing public disorder offences in the Police Act 1892, which set out powers to arrest & charge someone with public drunkenness, as well as being historically responsible for enforcing a range of legislation concerned with other offences, such as enforcement of compliance with liquor licensing legislation. The WA Police have changed their organisational title:

  • Western Australian Police Department 1853 - May 1995
  • Western Australian Police Service (WAPS) June 1995 - June 2006
  • Western Australia Police (WAPOL) July 2006 - present

Click on the following links to view or download readable scanned copies of either printed annual reports or of typed manuscripts of unpublished tabled annual reports:

Liquor regulatory system


Licensing courts: February 1911 - August 1923

The liquor licensing laws of WA were consolidated by the Licensing Act 1911, which established licensing districts, licensing courts and their membership. Licensing districts conformed with existing electoral districts, with the provision they could amalgamate or divide electoral districts into one or more licensing districts as required, as follows:

  • Perth Licensing Court (which amalgamated the Perth, East Perth, West Perth and North Perth electoral districts into one licensing district);
  • Fremantle Licensing Court;
  • Subiaco Licensing Court;
  • Guildford Licensing Court;
  • Claremont Licensing Court;
  • Canning Licensing Court;
  • York Licensing Court;
  • Yalgoo Licensing Court;
  • Albany Licensing Court;
  • Cue Licensing Court; and
  • Laverton Licensing Court.

A licensing court was established in every licensing district and consisted of three persons appointed by the Governor. All were ex-officio Justices of the Peace and the Chairman had to be a Police or Resident Magistrate and were appointed for a three year term. All classes of liquor licences were granted for the duration of one calendar year and licence fees were based on the annual rental value of the property in the case of a publicans' general licence, while fixed fees were levied for all other classes. The Licensing Act 1911 established a system of 15 licences as follows:

  • Publican's general;
  • Hotel;
  • Wayside-house;
  • Australian Wine and Beer;
  • Australian Wine;
  • Australian Wine Bottle;
  • Packet;
  • Railway Refreshment Room;
  • Spirit Merchants;
  • Gallon;
  • Brewers;
  • Eating-house, Boarding-house or Lodging-house;
  • Billiard table;
  • Temporary; and
  • Occasional license.

This system operated between 21 February 1911 and 15 August 1923.

State Licensing Court: August 1923 - 30 June 1970

The Liquor Act Amendment Act 1922 abolished all existing Licensing Courts and established two administrative bodies, a single State Licensing Court and the Licences Reduction Board. The State Licensing Court had exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all applications regarding licensing and to set the conditions for the granting of licences and permits on a Statewide basis.

The Liquor Licensing Court operated as a branch of the Chief Secretary's Department until 1970 when, under the terms of the Liquor Act of 1970, it became a statutory authority empowered to grant licences on a state wide basis with exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all applications regarding licensing and to set the conditions for the granting of licences and permits. The Court was abolished in 1970 and replaced by the Licensing Court of Western Australia.

This system operated between 16 August 1923 and 30 June 1970.

Licensing Court of WA: July 1970 - January 1987

The Liquor Act 1970 repealed the Licensing Act 1911 and established the Licensing Court of WA (LCWA) which had exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all applications regarding licensing and to set the conditions for the granting of licences and permits on a state wide basis. In February 1984 the Office of Racing and Gaming assumed administrative responsibility for the Court.

This system operated between 1 July 1970 and 31 January 1987.

Liquor Licensing Court: February 1987 - May 2007

The LCWA was renamed the Liquor Licensing Court (LLC) and resulted in the establishment of a two tier system of where the Court had judicial oversight of major liquor licensing matters, with the processing and assessment of applications in effect devolved as administrative functions to the Office of Racing Gaming and Liquor (ORGL).

The LLC comprised a Judge who heard and determined contested applications for the grant or removal of Category A licenses (ie hotels, taverns, cabarets and liquor stores). All other applications were heard by the Director of Liquor Licensing (Office of Racing Gaming & Liquor). The LLC’s determinations had the same weight as those handed down by the District Court. The court and its functions were created by the Liquor Amendment Act (No 2) 1986 and Liquor Licensing Act 1988.

This system operated between 1 February 1987 and 6 May 2007.

Liquor Commission: May 2007 - present

The Liquor Commission was established under Section 8 of the Liquor Control Act 1988 & came into effect on 7 May, 2007 and replaced the LLC established in 1987.

This reform, which triggered by the appointment of an independent committee in September 2004 to review the State’s liquor licensing arrangements, is described as being to “provide a flexible system with as little formality and technicality as practicable", in effect shifting matters that had previously been dealt with in a court context to being treated as administrative matters overseen by the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor.

Office of Racing & Gaming: December 1984 - June 2001

The Office of Racing and Gaming (ORGL) was created to bring together into one organisation responsibility for racing, gaming and liquor matters and to achieve improved efficiency and effectiveness in how these functions were administered. The Office provided policy advice to the Minister and was responsible for the administration of all racing, gaming and liquor legislation.

The ORGL operated from 14 December 1984 to 30 June 2001.

Department of Racing, Gaming & Liqour: July 2001 - present

The Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor (DRGL) was established on 1 July 2001 & performs similar functions as previously performed by the ORGL.

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