Opal fuel turns 10


Sir – This month it is 10 years since Opal, the low aromatic fuel (LAF), first rolled into Alice Springs.
Today we will launch the Menzies School of Health Research final document into petrol sniffing, reporting an 87.9% reduction in sniffing in the 17 communities sampled.
This happened on the back of a community campaign and with the support of fuel companies, government and many retailers in the region. It has worked well and 10 years on we have reason to celebrate and highlight this good story.
Many community leaders took action against sniffing and argued for resources and support that were needed, governments, industry, councils, social service organisations and many concerned individuals all played a role and continue to make regional use of LAF a success.
Unfortunately there is still the legacy of generations of petrol sniffing and the number of adults with acquired brain injury.
And, despite all the evidence there are still some retailers that do not stock LAF. This can be linked to sniffing outbreaks in our region, so there is still some work to do.
This milestone is being celebrated at the same time that the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory is conducting hearings in the region.
While necessarily a lot of the commission’s focus will be on measures that can be implemented once people have committed crimes and are in the criminal justice system, the outcomes we’re marking today show the value of also focusing on prevention.
There is good evidence to show that we can reduce the levels of crime in our communities through positive measures that take a holistic approach, like good youth programs that empower young people, through using community development approaches, including the right approaches to jobs and education.
We hope that this is not missed in the considerations of the Royal Commission.
Blair McFarland (pictured)


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