ALCOHOL WATCH #18 by Russell Guy.
Police presence at bottle shops in Alice Springs will continue, but at a reduced level.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Kate Vanderlaan says the five week “full lockdown” operation concentrated on an “extensive police presence across all liquor outlets during opening hours to measure the impact, which was positive.
“Police will continue to run Temporary Beat Locations at various outlets and times as part of normal operational procedures, as a harm minimisation strategy in Alice Springs.”
SENATE INQUIRY VISITS TENNANT CREEK AND DARWIN
The House of Representatives standing committee on indigenous affairs has heard evidence from the Council for Aboriginal Alcohol programs and the NT Council of Social Services (NTCOSS) in Darwin.
The ABC (3/4/14) reported NTCOSS executive director Wendy Morton as saying that the ‘law and order’ focus on Aboriginal people with alcohol issues reinforces the chasm between Indigenous and non-indigenous communities.”
Committee chairwoman and liberal MP Dr Sharman Stone took the comments on board but says the inquiry needs to focus on worsening alcoholism in Aboriginal communities, while in Tennant Creek, Anyinginyi Health spokesman Trevor Sanders told the committee: “There is a real need for reform in the supply and availability of alcohol and how alcohol is managed but we have also got to look at the causes of why we get such high levels of drinking, and we believe housing is one of those causes.”
“With overcrowded housing … you throw in the social ill around it. That environment tends to make health care providers a bit like the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.”
News.com (3/4/14) reported Morton as saying: “The chief minister’s endorsement of drinking as a core social value in the Northern Territory has not helped to tackle the problem drinking of indigenous people.”
A number of NGOs gave evidence that the NT government’s punitive approach to alcoholism is expensive – and failing. The inquiry heard how the Territory as a whole has an alcohol consumption rate 30% to 40% greater than the rest of Australia, and has the second-highest rate of alcohol consumption in the world, alcohol-related deaths three times the national average, hospital admissions double the national average, and 60%of police resources are used to deal with alcohol-related issues.
The hearings in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Darwin have repeatedly heard social services organisations call for a re-instatement of the Banned Drinkers Register.
“The BDR didn’t discriminate by background; while it was an inconvenience for people, it appeared to have an impact on the problem drinkers on the streets,” said Jillian Smith, CEO of the Council of Aboriginal Alcohol Prevention Services.
“Hopelessness is a word that comes up often. Loss of hope and loss of interest in the future is a very dismal place to be.”
A number of people giving evidence at the hearings criticised the NT government’s punitive approach to dealing with alcoholism by incarcerating people for what is a health and social issue.
“A lack of progress coincides with policy responses that have been pretty dismal” from both levels of government, said John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Association of the NT.
“By and large, the government has failed to make the transition from coercion to empowerment.”
“The cost of Mandatory Alcohol Treatment is about $45 million for its first year of operation, and only five per cent, or 40 of the 800 people passing through it, are expected to succeed in reducing their drinking”, said Jonathon Hunyor, principal legal officer for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency. To go to the punitive and really expensive (way) first seems like a terrible approach.”
Submissions on how to change behaviour included limiting the advertising of alcohol, instating a license to drink, investment in intervention programs that reduce demand for alcohol, investment in early childhood programs, and bringing treatments back to the bush.
BELOW COST BEER AND GROG WAREHOUSES IN SUPERMARKET PUSH
The Australian (7/4/14) reports: “Coles has grown its Liquor Store portfolio from 761 to 864 stores, including 52 new superstores trading under the First Choice banner. Over at Woolies, the liquor store portfolio has grown from 1154 stores to 1381, including more than 70 new Dan Murphy’s outlets, while the company has made a concerted push into online and direct sales with the acquisition of wine club business CellarMasters and fine wine auction house Langton’s.”
Woolworths drew $6.71 billion in revenue from liquor in the past financial year, while Coles, who are soon to open five new Liquorland Warehouse stores, drew $2.76 billion. According to the report, Woolworths’s have positioned their Dan Murphy’s chain to allow them to sell slabs of beer at below cost as their wines have a higher margin of profit.
HEAD SPINNING FOR UP TO 48 HOURS
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) notes: “If you’re flying in conditions where spatial disorientation is possible (clouds, night time), the rather dreary truth is you must avoid alcohol, drugs and fatigue.
“All of these increase susceptibility to spatial disorientation and its illusions. Alcohol impairs pilots (and others), not only because of intoxication and hangover, but also by changing the composition of the inner ear fluid, making disorientation more likely at a lower threshold (this is why your head spins when you’re very drunk).
“This effect can last for up to 48 hours after your last drink. Over-the-counter medications can also affect the inner ear, although their effects are varied and not fully researched. Be wary of them.” (Flight Safety Australia. March 2014).
ALCOHOL WATCH #18 by Russell Guy.