Time to Stop and Re-think our Approach to Alcohol Policy in the Territory
A broad range of groups and individuals from across the community have called on the NT Government to shelve its plans for mandatory rehabilitation and work with all relevant stakeholders to get alcohol policy right for the Territory.
“In the last few weeks we have heard a growing chorus of experts and groups working in this area speaking against the Government’s plans to lock up people with a drinking problem,” said Priscilla Collins, CEO of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency.
“This alcohol policy will place an increased pressure on legal and health services that already have stretched resources”.
“Everybody knows that the Territory has Australia’s biggest problem with grog. We all want to see an end to the grog-fuelled violence that is causing havoc in our community. We all want action. But mandatory rehabilitation, charging people if they leave treatment when they have not committed any previous offence, is the wrong way to go. We can’t afford to waste over 100 million dollars on a scheme that is not backed by any scientifically confirmed evidence.”
“The NT Governments should invest in addressing the issues that lead to alcohol abuse, disempowerment and social determinants of health”.
“They should also introduce a minimum floor price, alcohol free day on Centrelink pay day, and expand Alcohol Management Plan’s to include the supply of alcohol”.
The Government has also said it will introduce Alcohol Protection Orders that will allow police to ban people from drinking if they have been charged with an offence involving alcohol. It will then be an offence to breach an order.
“Alcohol Protection Orders will criminalise drinking and see many more people go to jail. We know that people with a serious grog problem will not be able to comply with the orders. This will have a particularly heavy impact on Aboriginal people and is exactly the opposite of what the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommended 20 years ago. We must not take the Territory backwards to failed policies of the past,” said Ms Collins.
“We call on the NT Government to shelve its plans for mandatory rehabilitation and Alcohol Protection Orders and work with stakeholders on a comprehensive policy for tackling the Territory’s grog problem. We need to get this right and base our approaches on real evidence.”
“We have put out this statement on behalf of the groups and individual listed below. We are united in our call for the NT Government to change direction on this important issue,” concluded Ms Collins.
Contact: Priscilla Collins
08 8982 5100
0427 045 665
Concerned Territorians include:
- North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency
- Aboriginal Peak Organisations (NT)
- Northern Land Council
- Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service
- Criminal Lawyers Association of the NT
- Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission
- People’s Alcohol Action Coalition
- Larrakia Nation
- North Australian Family Violence Legal Service
- Katherine Women’s Information and Legal Service
- Northern Territory Council of Social Services
- Darwin Community Legal Service
- Central Australian Aboriginal Congress
- Djabulukgu Association Incorporated
- Julalikari Council Aboriginal
- Theresa Roe
- Central Land Council
- Darwin Aboriginal & Islander Women’s Shelter