A FRANKSTON-based organisation working within the murky world of drug users for more than two decades wants the law changed to force drug addicts into rehabilitation.
The Rev Angel Roldan, who along with his wife Ulli heads the Christian Life-Gate organisation, says Victoria should follow Singapore with a compulsory four-month rehabilitation for drug users and 15-20 year jail sentences for drug traffickers.
He said legislation would be required so that police, doctors or agencies could force drug users into a rehabilitation centre.
Waiting for a court to decide “takes too long … these people are killing themselves”.
Mr Roldan stops short of advocating the adoption of Singapore’s capital punishment laws.
Statistics show that the two executions carried out by Singapore in 2014 were for drug-related offences.
“Throughout the years, the government has been spending billions of dollars for drug programs, [but] these drug programs can only help those who want to be helped; I am targeting the ones who do not want to be helped,” Mr Roldan said. “Our government is already apprehending drug traffickers, but not drug users … the majority of drug users are involved in crime in some way.”
Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) last year reported an eight per cent increase in the arrest of “drug abusers” and sees the drug situation in Singapore as being “worrying and challenging”.
It said about 37 per cent of arrested drug abusers were new abusers, with 71 per cent of new abusers below 30 years old.
“Given the high relapse rate, these new drug abusers will have to be carefully rehabilitated lest they continue to add to our future drug statistics.”
Life-Gate, in Olsen St, Frankston, was founded in 1992 by Mr Roldan and his wife.
“We help people out of drugs, crises and life controlling problems,” Mr Roldan said.
“We have visited Victorian prisons for 13 years and our street outreach team patrols the streets of Frankston every Friday to contact the needy and troubled youth.”
Mr Roldan said police statistics showed drug use was increasing in Frankston with 589 drug offences detected in 2011-2012 and 828 in 2012-2013.
“We are contacting many troubled youth and also adults on Friday nights during our street outreach, when we offer food and drinks behind the Frankston station and also patrolling the streets until late hours,” Mr Roldan said.
“We encounter many who are taking drugs, especially ice.”
Mr Roldan said while many people came to the Life-Gate centre for help few “are prepared to go to a rehab centre”.
“Some mothers call to ask for help because their son or daughter is taking ice, but they can’t convince the addict to seek help.
We help people by advising what options are there for rehabilitation. We offer counselling and also try to help them in their life struggles.
“Sometimes we can help mending relationships. If they are willing, we send them to detox first and then to a rehab centre.”
Mr Roldan has a book with information and photos of rehabilitation centres in Singapore.
“The centres can be big or small. This is the kind of strategy that needs to be discussed to make it effective.
“In the long term, the government would save money: less crime, less welfare payments, less family dramas.”
“The one size fits all strategy that governments rely upon to combat drug addiction is clearly failed.
“I believe we need a more localised approach to addressing the growing drug culture in Frankston,” former mayor and Life-Gate board member Kris Bolam said.