Letter to the editor: The Age promotes exploitative practice (29/07/16)

The following letter to the editor was submitted on 27/07/16. It has not been published.

Given The Age’s recent interest in exposing poor service quality and exploitative marketing practices by for-profit providers of alcohol and other drug treatment services, I was surprised to see the paper publishing a blatant promotional piece for such a service (The Cabin Chiang Mai: back from the brink of addiction).

While positive stories about recovery are always welcome, this piece provides the same unfounded claims of effectiveness that perpetuate the myth that for-profit services provide better outcomes than those funded by government. The unquestioned claim that the service’s ‘sobriety success rates far outstrip those offered by Australian rehabilitation services’ is pure marketing and should not go unchallenged.

Any services promising ‘cures’ to vulnerable and desperate families should be held to account, particularly given the huge sums they charge for what is often little more than 12-step groups (that are available at no cost within all communities) together with accommodation and meals.
A hotel review where the journalist ‘was a guest of’ the establishment is one thing, a sponsored advertorial for a treatment service is another matter altogether. It does not belong in The Age.

Laurence Alvis
CEO, UnitingCare ReGen


Note: We did receive a response from Fairfax (on 01/08/16), apologising for the content of the article and advising that most concerning paragraph had been removed from the online version of the story. When we last checked, the paragraph was still included via the orginial link). We are currently seeking publication of a longer response to media coverage of for-profit services and will post the link, when it's available.