Congress welcomes steps to address alcohol in Central Australia
[supplied by CAAC]
Central Australian Aboriginal Congress welcomes the joint announcement by the Australian and Northern Territory Governments detailing a package of measures to address the crisis of alcohol-related crime and violence in Central Australia.
Congress Chief Executive Officer, Donna Ah Chee (pictured) said “Congress is very pleased that Aboriginal leaders, communities and organisations in Central Australia have been listened to.”
“Since the expiry in July last year of the Stronger Futures provisions that protected many of our communities, the town has been drowning in rivers of grog. The result has been an explosion of break-ins and, most worrying of all, alcohol-fuelled violence.
“We have been calling very strongly since then for a twofold strategy to address the harm that alcohol is causing for our people.
“First, we need the immediate reimposition of alcohol bans to break the cycle of violence and keep our people and families safe. Those bans need to continue while communities are consulted properly and are able to put their own plans in place that ensure respect for the right of community members to live without a daily threat of violence.
“Second, we need sustained action on the drivers of destructive drinking: intergenerational trauma, poverty, poor education, and discrimination. We have been clear that alcohol bans are not enough by themselves.
“I congratulate Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles, and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, on listening to us. Their joint announcement outlines significant and positive action in both these areas.”
The Northern Territory Government announced it will legislate to reintroduce alcohol restrictions so that town camps and communities will revert to being dry areas. This will allow communities to develop Community Alcohol Plans. Those places that wish to opt-out of a dry-zone will need 60% of the community to vote in support of ending the dry area.
In addition, the Australian Government will fund a $250 million plan for A Better, Safer Future for Central Australia. This plan is to include action on improved community safety and cohesion through more youth engagement and diversion programs; job creation; better services; addressing Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD); investing in families; and improving school attendance and completion.
Donna Ah Chee concluded by saying “This collaborative Government action in response to the voices of Aboriginal people and organisations in Central Australia could be a game changer. We are whole-heartedly committed to working with Governments through existing Closing the Gap structures to make sure that our town never has to experience the chaos, violence and crime of the last few months ever again.”
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