Submission Sessional Committee on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol by the Community 051 Pitjantjatjara Council Inc
Tabled Paper 271
Tabled Papers for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled by Eric Poole
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
In 1989, however, it was insufficient to sway the Liquor Commission in the Curtin Springs hearing, despite the fact that Magistrate Denis Barritt and others supported Stoll's observations about availability and Aboriginal drinking patterns (see also section VI). In fact, the Commission appeared to disregard such testimony entirely when it noted that: We do know of people from the Docker River community travelling the 1,600 km round trip to Alice Springs to obtain liquor and to have a "holiday" in Alice Springs. We have heard instances in similar vein during this hearing and we wonder whether the wishes of Aboriginals and their ability to take time off whenever they wish, and the transport available to them from whatever community they would be in, is a factor which is not being fully taken into account by persons charged with their "education". Availability, consumption, and the "public health approach" Although it is clearly not accepted by the N.T. Liquor Commission, there is a considerable body of compelling scientific evidence that availability is a significant factor in alcohol consumption generally - not just in the Aboriginal community. The so-called "availability hypothesis" states what seems mere common sense: the more available alcohol is, the more people will drink and, consequently, the more alcohol-related problems they will have. Significant factors that affect availability include the minimum drinking age, the days and hours during which alcohol may be sold, and the number and type of liquor outlets (e.g. off premises, on-premises, etc.). According to the availability hypothesis, changes in any of these variables should result in changes in alcohol consumption and related problems. The availability theory has been gaining increasing currency among alcohol researchers and government regulators since the mid-1970s. While debate continues on this issue, a number of studies in Australia and overseas have provided strong support. Dr. Ian Smith, director of the Road Accident Prevention Research Unit at the University of Western Australia's Department of Medicine, has produced study after study of changes in various availability factors, most of which have provided substantial support to the theory. 25
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