NON DISCRIMINATORY ALCOHOL MANAGEMENT
Repeal blanket alcohol bans in Aboriginal communities.
Provide resources to allow communities to develop local solutions to alcohol misuse that are driven by and appropriate to the community.
Resource culturally appropriate and accessible alcohol treatment.
Broader measures to empower communities, emply Aboriginal people in rewarding work and ensure delivery of basic services are crucial for dealing with problems associated with alcohol.
Prior to 2007, under NT government regulations, Aboriginal communities had the option of restricting access to alcohol on their lands. The majority of Aboriginal communities nominated to be completely "dry" - though often lacked the resources to impose these restrictions.
Fewer Aboriginal people consume alcohol than non-Aboriginal people. But among the Aboriginal people that do drink, the rate of drinking at harmful levels is high and this contributes to a range of other acute social problems. These problems with alcohol have their roots in the oppression and poverty (pdf) faced by Indigenous people.
The NT Intervention introduced blanket alcohol bans on Aboriginal land, requiring the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. Many Aboriginal people complain these bans have been stigmatising and discriminatory. There is evidence that they have actually undermined the alcohol restrictions previously operating.
There is also evidence of an increase in harmful patterns such as binge drinking, drinking in unsafe environments and movement into urban centres resulting from the restrictions.
Amendments to Intervention legislation made in 2009 retain blanket bans as the default position on 'Prescribed Areas', but include provisions for communities to develop Alcohol Management Plans and apply to the government to consider implementing these plans.
A joint response to the new laws, by peak Aboriginal organisations in 2010, emphasised that they were still discriminatory and criticised the lack of funding and resources to allow communities to make such applications.
The joint statement also said, "Most significantly, the ATSILS and APO(NT) remain concerned at the lack of focus on putting a range of culturally appropriate and accessible alcohol treatment programs on the ground in remote communities".
In their response to the announcement of the NT Intervention The Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the NT (pdf page 14) said, "it should be recognised that abuse of alcohol and other drugs is a coping strategy for deeper problems such as entrenched joblessness and the destruction of family and culture. The underlying causes must also be addressed."
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