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Submission Sessional Committee on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol by the Community 051 Pitjantjatjara Council Inc



Submission Sessional Committee on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol by the Community 051 Pitjantjatjara Council Inc

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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.




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The Liquor Commission had been in operation only for two years. Chairman Ian Pitman had long experience in the area of Aboriginal affairs and was very concerned about the impact of licensing decisions on Aboriginal communities. During this three-month trial, a study was done of Imanpa children by the community schoolteacher and the Rural Health district medical officer to see if their overall health and comprehension in school improved in a less grog-saturated environment. The children showed significant improvements in both areas. Imanpa residents, most of whom were drinkers, objected to the total ban on alcohol, however. Needless to say, the roadhouse licensees didn't like it, either. So, at the end of the three months, a compromise was struck: the Liquor Commission set a limit on the amount of takeaway alcohol that could be sold from the roadhouse to six cans of beer per person per day. No takeaway sales of wine or spirits were allowed. Still, heavy drinkers could get around the limit by enlisting every available person in the community of legal drinking age to front up for their six cans - whether they drank or not. The truck from Mt. Ebenezer came to Imanpa every day to take people to buy. Grog remained a central feature of everyday life. The community remained utterly dependent on the roadhouse. The road to independence As advisors to the Imanpa community, Langford and Thornton were presented with a complicated dilemma. First, it was clear that community development could not truly move ahead unless something was done about alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, the alcohol programs that were showing the most promise in relation to traditional Aboriginal people - which were then being developed in the Top End by what would become CAAPS (Church Aboriginal Alcohol Program Services) - relied heavily on the strength of the traditional Aboriginal extended family. At Imanpa, there were no extended families which did not include significant numbers of heavy drinkers and/or petrol sniffers. Most had histories of alcohol-related criminal offences. Alcohol was everywhere in the environment. Ninety-plus percent of the adult men and 70% of the adult women were drinkers. The "community" as such had little or no cohesion. 36