The decision by the Department of Public Prosecutions not to investigate the death of Kwementyaye Briscoe in a police cell in January 2012 is another shocking blight on the justice system and its treatment of Indigenous Australians, writes Monica Morgan of the Amnesty International's Indigenous Rights Program.
With the death of Kwementyaye Briscoe in the Alice Springs police watchhouse in January (the image at right was produced in evidence at the inquest), and the recent death of Thomas Kelly in Kings Cross, there is a rapidly increasing public awareness of the fact that Australians have allowed a national drinking culture to escalate into unacceptable levels of alcohol-related violence and self-harm.
Control of booze abuse will be a major issue for the August 25 election, yet neither major party will answer questions whether they get financial support from the alcohol industry and if so, how much.
Campaign donation figures available to the public are often from companies or donors whose connections to the liquor industry are not clear, but neither Opposition Leader Terry Mills nor Chief Minister Paul Henderson will provide explanations.
Take-away is where the money is (70% of alcohol sold in the NT is take-away). Agitating for take-away sales-free days is asking for a trade-off in lives over profit. Unsurprisingly, restricting this supply is not a popular call. In formulating the NT Country Liberals’ alcohol policy, Mr Mills makes the prima facie claim: “It’s behavior that’s the problem, not the substance.”
According to McCuster Centre For Action on Alcohol and Youth, over the last 10 years about 15% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds were due to risky / high risk drinking. On average, five Australians under 25 die from injury or disease caused by hazardous drinking each week and Indigenous people are more than twice as likely to die.
When an intoxicated Indigenous woman holds up her hand and stops a train besides the now ironically named, Little Sisters Town Camp, it could be that she’s saying “Stop!” to the free market grog trade decimating her community.
The tragedy is that it doesn’t stop there. If this woman is pregnant, the unborn child is likely to suffer Foetal Alcohol Sprectrum Disorder.
Terry Mills faces the Australian Christian Lobby’s Make it Count Election Forum at CDU, Darwin next Thursday, August 9 at 7:30pm. The webcast will be streamed live to the Baptist Church, cnr Crispe and Brown St, Alice Springs.
Paul Henderson, NT Chief Minister declined to participate. COMMENT by RUSSELL GUY.