By ERWIN CHLANDA
Some people chose their own way to remember White Ribbon Day over the weekend in Central Australia: In the 72 hours to 6am today, there were 50 breaches of DVOs (domestic violence orders) and domestic disturbances.
Of these more than half – namely 28 – were alcohol related.
Police say they have seized five vehicles in Alice Springs that were allegedly taking alcohol into dry communities over the past week.
Acting Superintendent Pauline Vicary says a 34-year-old woman was stopped by police as she entered an alcohol restricted camp. Police seized two bottles of spirits and the woman’s car. The following day three bottles of spirits were seized.
John Boffa, from the influential People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC), says the spike is as yet unexplained and reinforces the need to have a group undertaking real time monitoring of what is going on.
As The Centre heads into the high season of violence and antisocial behaviour, Dr Boffa says responses currently include the re-introduction of the Banned Drinker Register (BDR), axed by the Giles government four years ago without evaluation, and the continuation, for as long as necessary, of the Point of Sale Intervention (POSI – cops at bottleshops).
Getting these responses right, Dr Boffa expects, will take till the middle of next year, a necessarily long period to ensure the issues are dealt with “thoroughly and properly” by the new government, achieving “proper data and reporting”.
He hopes there will be significant changes:-
- People are likely to be put on the BDR not just for repeated (three times) drunken behaviour, but if alcohol abuse has led to their children being in the child protection system.
- Banned drinkers could be barred not just from buying take-away, but also from drinking in bars (but not restaurants). This would mean everyone showing ID if they want a schooner or two.
- Alcohol dependent drinkers will be supported in maintaining abstinence through the BDR.
“Real time monitoring” of key data will enable changes to be made as needed in response to relapses and upsurges in alcohol caused violence.
Dr Boffa says a 70 to 80% relapse rate is the international norm, and the recent surgeon general’s report from the USA has reinforced the fact that treatment of ex-alcoholics needs to go on for years, not months, with adjustments to the regime made as required.
Meanwhile, according to statistics from the Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Tribunal, the new “client presentations” in the NT dropped from 245 in 2014/15 to 217 in 2015/16. “Second presentations”– people relapsing one time – dropped from 168 to 105.
However, third to seventh presentations all increased sharply, respectively from 52 to 75 (3rd), 12 to 37 (4th), 1 to 21 (5th), 1 to 7 (6th) and 0 to 3 (7th presentation).
In Alice Springs during 2015/16, the following orders were made by the tribunal to take part in mandatory treatment: CAAAPU 57, Congress 26, DASA 6, Alcohol and Other Drugs 5, Drug and Alcohol Services (hospital) 3 and Holyoake 1.
Federal Labor politicians are also doing their bit – “linking arms with cultural and political leaders from across Australia at the forecourt of Parliament House in a sign of solidarity against violence”.
According to a media release they included Malarndirri McCarthy, Senator for the Northern Territory; Luke Gosling OAM MP, Member for Solomon; as well as Warren Snowdon MP, Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Shadow Assistant Minister for Northern Australia and Member for Lingiari.
PHOTO (courtesy police): Friday morning’s White Ribbon parade moving down Todd Mall.