SCUAAC Letter Mr Gary R Cartwright Member for Victoria River to Mr Eric Poole Chairman Sessional Committee on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol (133)
Tabled Paper 373
Tabled Papers for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT
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Why Returning Aboriginal People to Their Communities is Wrong (1) It Contravenes Human Rights Imposition of this ruling would be clearly discriminatory against Aboriginal people. A Victorian convicted under this offence would not be sent back to Victoria. Nor would an Englishman to England. In addition, it is not acceptable in Australian society for people to be forced by law to live somewhere other than a place of their own choosing. Forcibly returning people to communities is very similar to the much criticised "homelands" policy of the South Africans. (2) It ignores the welfare of either the offender or the community Most medical and welfare services with a capacity to deal with the physical and emotional problems of alcoholism are located in towns such as Katherine or Darwin. Thus Aboriginal offenders would be denied access to the services they require. In addition, what constitutes a problem for the towns of Darwin and Katherine will simply be transferred to these communities in many cases. Thus what is really being stated is that non-Aboriginal society can't manage this problem, so poorly resourced Aboriginal communities will have to do it instead. It is a great irony that European settlement of Australia commenced because Britain wanted to remove "offenders" from its shores, displacing Aboriginal people in the process. Now some of the descendants of these same offenders are wanting to inflict the same policy prescription of 200 years ago back on Aboriginal people! Initiatives Undertaken or Proposed by Aboriginal Communities and Associations A number of measures are currently being undertaken in the region, or proposed, which seek to address problems associated with the use and abuse of alcohol. Some of these have been quite successful, and provide an insight to what can be achieved around the Territory. Rather than discussing what occurs community by community, the initiatives themselves are discussed, with examples of where they are applied. (1) Prohibition Most remote communities in the Katherine region have now instituted a policy of prohibition within their boundaries. While this is a viable choice for many, given their isolation from points of sale, it is not available to those communities which are more mixed (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people), or those that are located close to towns or road houses with liquor licences.