Happy dogs make for happy people, writes John Bermingham, but not always in the Old Eastside's Ross Park where Town Council restrictions have been brought in, apparently with little or no public consultation – or need.
UPDATE 12.20pm: The rules are not new, says the Town Council.
Alcohol! Alcohol! Alcohol! Here we go again. It’s not often I find myself agreeing with Barb Shaw, however it’s about time the endless pointless circular debate about alcohol abuse and restrictions reached the blatantly obvious and only conclusion that will bring it to an end.
Mandatory confinement for alcohol rehabilitation will soon start for at least some problem drunks at the moment they are taken into protective custody for the third time in two months.
They will be under constant supervision while they are being assessed, and possibly spend three months locked up in a special facility.
If they abscond the police will be chasing them, and – a matter still under consideration – they may finish up in gaol.
Once they complete the rehab, 70% of their income from welfare payments is likely to be managed, for at least a year.
So much for the stick. On the carrot side, they will get after-care, helping them to find and adjust to work, and assistance to cope with temptations "outside" to get back on the booze.
It's a 'lite' version of the touted programs that got the CLP into power in August last year, which promised expensive prison farms where people would spend a great deal more time than just three months. Alice Springs News Online editor ERWIN CHLANDA spoke with Health Minister Robyn Lambley(pictured) who has carriage of mandatory alcohol rehabilitation. PHOTO at top: The grounds of the Central Australian Aboriginal Alcohol Programs Unit.
How will the liquor outlets enforce a limit for the footy weekend of one carton or one spirits bottle per person per day if they have no authority to ask for an ID? Is there anyone living in Alice so naive as to think the clients targeted by these restrictions will answer truthfully when asked if they have already purchased a bottle or a carton? And aren't we being just a wee bit precious about this whole ID thing, asks Hal Duell.
If you're inclined to scream "Why Me" every time you hear the word alcohol restrictions, take some comfort from how Australia's most famous beach and former venue for wild New Year's Eve boogies is dealing with the issues. Not only is alcohol completely banned from Bondi Beach at all times, but so is smoking. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. ABOVE: Signs prohibiting smoking and drinking alcohol on world famous Bondi Beach, bans brought in by local government after "riots".
This week's Food for Thought is by RUSSELL GUY, commentator, writer and music promoter in Central Australia's outback for 31 years. He is a frequent contributor to the comment sections of the Alice Springs News Online. He is also a keen aviator where "eight hours from bottle to throttle" is an unbending rule for pilots in command of an aircraft.
In 2006 – 2007, Australians aged 15 and over consumed on average almost 10 litres of pure alcohol per head. In comparison, average consumption in the NT by the non-indigenous population was over 14 litres, and for indigenous it was more than 16 litres, but Alice Springs is way out in front at around 20 litres per head.
The NT Government says 70% of all alcohol sold in the NT is sold as take-away liquor and that hospitalisation rates due to alcohol are the highest in Australia. The same research relates that alcohol-related deaths occur in the NT at about 3.5 times the rate they do nationally. 55% of road deaths are caused by high-risk drinking in the NT and that in 2009, there were 54,000 incidents of people taken into protective custody due to alcohol misuse. Adults who consumed alcohol, 30% reported drinking alcohol at a risky or high risk level and added that if the NT were a country, then it would be up amongst those countries in the world with the highest rates of per capita consumption. Many studies have identified the correlation between high levels of alcohol consumption and shortened life expectancy.
Is it any wonder booze is shaping up as one of the main issues in the run-up to the local government elections next month?
"I've got 55 positions across MacDonnell Shire – I can't fill all of them because I have to compete with Centrelink."
It was one of the starker statements of the two and half hour public meeting held in Alice on Tuesday evening, about the second phase of the Federal Intervention.
The speaker was Tracey McNee, coordinator of Community Safety at the shire, making a point about the disincentive to work created by ease of access to the dole. She "took her hat off" to shire residents who had taken the work, but commented on the remaining vacancies: "[People] don't necessarily have the same pressure and pushes to apply for those jobs."
The jobs are with night patrol services: "No-one is saying night patrol is an easy job, but it is a job," said Ms McNee.
Centrelink is potentially "a large part of the solution," responded veteran community development worker Bob Durnan, suggesting that the organisation has the motivation and capacity as well as permanent staff in communities to help people into jobs (presumably with some forcefulness, if necessary). He said while government has poured a huge amount of money into job networks, they are not based in communities and don't have local knowledge. Centrelink is in a good position to take over job network functions, he said. KIERAN FINNANE reports. Photo: Youth worker George Peckham on the microphone at Tuesday night's public meeting.