Death from alcohol: is the industry culpable?


Sir – An inquiry examining the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will be called upon to explore the culpability of the alcohol industry, examining the alcohol supply chain and its role in supplying alcohol to communities where harms are most significant.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are disproportionately affected, with deaths from alcohol-related causes 7.5 times greater than to other Australians.
Countless reviews have examined the role of Government and the responsibility of drinkers, but repeatedly overlooked the responsibility of the alcohol industry.
If we are to address this national shame, we need to first acknowledge that there is an alcohol industry that profits every day from the misery and suffering, and then we need to fully explore the alcohol industry’s culpability.
[The governments need to]  mandate that the alcohol industry make its supply data publicly and continually available. If industry has nothing to hide, it will not resist such a call.
[We have made] a further 31 recommendations, including the introduction of community- driven Alcohol Management Plans in areas where a need has been identified and agreed, and calls for a new National Alcohol Strategy, informed by the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.
Michael Thorn
Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education


  1. The House of Representatives is to be condemned for their Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs, and that committee’s conducting an inquiry into alcohol problems in communities selected by racial tags.
    Sipping a glass of alcohol is NOT the problem.
    The acknowledged problem remains over-consumption of alcohol.
    Drinking too much water can harm or kill you.
    Alcohol is an ongoing problem throughout Australia.
    All communities, not just those selected by racial tags, experience over-consumption problems.
    Some experience higher alcoholism and public drunkenness than others.
    These higher alcohol problems are not related to racial tags.
    Many affected communities demonstrate lower proportional alcohol consumption.
    The higher problem rates indicate the problems are not being addressed.
    Racial tags usage remains a racist activity, with aims of the racists prosper from such attention, they grasp opportunities for suggestions racial identification is a qualifying measure, contrary to facts.
    Parliament’s House of Representatives is NOT serious about addressing alcohol problems.
    Serious attention requires dropping racial tags, seriously looking all around Australia at alcohol problems.
    Alcoholism is higher where education levels lower.
    Alcoholism is higher where employment prospects are lower.
    Alcoholism is higher where poverty is higher.
    Alcoholism is easier to find where disadvantages are not hidden.
    Commonwealth Parliament exempted various Commonwealth created corporate land-owner Trusts from being held to same accountability and responsibility as other landlords.
    Such racial tag exemptions significantly contribute to disadvantages in these NT ghetto communities.
    Racist ghettos significantly contribute to lower education standards, lower employment prospects, increases in drunkenness, increases in other drug usages and addictions, lower quality of life.
    Such ghettos are part of the problem, not the solution.
    The causes were, and remain, racist government policy and administration using racial tags.
    Why not be more enthusiastic for research into why some individuals succumb to alcoholism easier than others.
    New genomic technology indicates particular human genes indicative of higher risks for developing alcoholism may revolutionize prevention and treatment options.
    Funding may be better spent on Australian research and wider population genetic mapping, to further identify the indicator clusters of genetic variations.
    (51 chromosomal regions appear to play roles in alcohol addiction through cell-to-cell communication, control of protein synthesis, regulation of development, and cell-to-cell interactions.)
    Instead of addressing real issues, the House of Representatives Committee targets communities and individuals by racial tags, their focus, sadly to distract public attention from real disadvantages they impose which cause these problems upon their victims.
    There exists NO necessity to qualify Australians’ rights or responsibilities using racial measures, except to divide Australians for further political abuse.

  2. Very well said Paul, the number of bureaucratic bodies that continue to separate Aboriginal Australians out of the mix with the direct intention of treating them differently. Developing Policies, even assigning guilt, making Patronizing Paternalistic and therefore totally racist decisions on their behalf is and should be recognized by all Australians for what it is: “Racism” in its most insidious and destructive form! Its time we as a Nation woke up to “Do-Gooder Apartheid” and brought it to and end, by the very simple means of treating all Australians equally.

  3. @ Steve Brown. 6th September.
    Re the enquiry into the harmful use of alcohol in Indigenous communities, the Chair, Dr Sharman Stone MP, said: “The Committee also continues to receive evidence on the relationship between the harmful use of alcohol and the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system.
    “The lack of recognition of FASD has far-reaching consequences for those with FASD and their families. We know that people with FASD are more likely to end up in juvenile detention and prison, rather than receiving the early intervention and support they need.” (5/9/14. Media Release).
    In the story above, FARE notes “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are disproportionately affected, with deaths from alcohol-related causes 7.5 times greater than to other Australians.”
    If your point is that this enquiry is somehow racist in focussing exclusively on Indigenous alcohol consumption, then perhaps you might explain why Indigenous are grossly overrepresented in the quotations given above?
    The culpability of the alcohol industry is the focus of the story.
    One might add its promotion, including online, and its agents in the form of retailers, and the taxpayer culpability of the well-documented health burden that results, overseen by governments whose election campaigns are alcohol-industry funded to maintain a disadvantaged section of the population in welfare funded addiction and poverty, while creaming these funds for their own benefit.
    The cycle continues each election. So, bravo to the enquiry! Maybe, something might change. You never know, if you never go.

  4. The Senate committee is examining over-representation of alcohol in crime with racial focus. Targeting a single ethnic group is racist.
    Enquiries like this exaggerate ethnicity, linked to criminal, re-enforcing earlier prejudices which disadvantage people by ethnicity.
    Those achieving higher education standards enjoy alcohol without alcohol related charges, yet grouped together abusively by racial tags.
    IF enquiry concentrated exclusively on prisoners convicted for alcohol related offences, education levels remain relevant.
    What are the NT prisoner education statistics, how many there under-educated ?
    From Ken Middlebrook (Commissioner Correctional Services NT) from: Employers_Kit_Sentenced_to_a_Job.pdf
    “The Department of Correctional Services is moving forward with a strong focus on employment to help break the cycle of re-offending, having recognised that there is a direct correlation between higher levels of education and employment and lower levels of crime. Prisoner employment and education will be the key to our success. ”
    Reduce re-imprisonment by raising education levels.
    Alcohol remains part of the problem, but it is not the story.
    Alcohol consumption, along with alcohol related crime, are higher where education levels are lower.
    FASD was recognized as a significant problem some time ago. Still FASD victims and carers need more support if to reduce longer term dependency of victims.

  5. @ Paul Parker. Sept 7th.
    The quote from the NT Correctional Services Commissioner that you refer to does not mention alcohol, but the Senate Enquiry clearly does in this context. How would you explain the omission?

  6. The quote referred to dealing with those in prison, many of whom get there with alcohol indicators.
    Imprisonment IMHO not making significant difference, imprisonment is seen as normal.
    Imprisonment needs NOT be regarded as normal.
    To reduce offenders in prisons, alcoholism and intoxication need be recognized as indicators more than “the cause”.
    Alcoholics are difficult to correct.
    Early stage intoxicated individuals a lot easier.
    Both alcoholism and public intoxication need be strongly targeted, not collected together in a social “fellow victims” club behind walls.
    Need ensure clear message neither desirable, neither acceptable, particularly as lifestyles.
    To reduce number of alcoholics, start with those intoxicated before they become habitual alcoholics.
    To reduce intoxication, need raise education levels, need raise feelings of belonging to prospering mainstream society not off-set ghettos.
    Social policy needs be “when drunk you are the problem”.
    NT prisons can address education levels, requiring prisoners progress on raise literacy and numeracy courses.
    NT prisons can encourage with day-release or parole conditions for prisoners into employment or self-education.
    Is very hard to create employment in all these NT communities, this largely result of decisions by these communities (due lack of education) and those who purport to be their advisers.
    Internet enables easier and cheaper educational programs, with participation possible from remote communities.
    Education needs be a goal in itself.
    With education, participants can both learn meaningful, rewarding, employment within or away from their communities is possible.
    Education needs be a critical focus of NTG.
    IMHO the NT government has reasonable day to day view of impact, practical and statistical, over NT communities; particularly the many under-developed ghetto communities.
    Addressing education, employment prospects, with available counseling can reduce impact of depression, which leads to excessive drinking.
    Does the reality depress? Yes, the constant flow of relatives, dead, or imprisoned, particularly the younger ones, is very depressing.

  7. I worked in education in the NT. I taught 16 year old initiated men what sound C and H make when put together.
    They had to draw a line to the word that contained that sound, “chicken” and to the picture of the chicken.
    Australia has a racist education system. The Government needs to start punishing the education system that is robbing our children.
    And the housing department that leaves people homeless.
    I have been on NT and NSW housing list since I was 18 and they have never, offered a rental to me.
    I’m 35.
    They even “lost” all my references. Government are at war with humans, targeting housing, education, justice, health and so called “mental” health.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here