SCUAAC Briefing 9 February 1994 Mr Steve Gelding District Manager representing the Department of Health and Community Services
Tabled Paper 345
Tabled Papers for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT
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ALCOHOL ABUSE COMMITTEE - Wednesday 9 February 1994 KATHERINE MEETING Mr GELDING: That is right. It is very hard to quantify those. All our community health centres have an alcohol-related trauma category and have given those stats to the police at different times. It is dependent on the individual marking it down. That does not always happen and therefore we cannot have a completely accurate picture. It indicates that the drier communities obviously have less alcohol-related trauma. If they come in reeking of booze and are obviously drunk, you can put it down. At other times it may not be what it appears to be. It is very difficult to determine the value of those sort of things to obtain an accurate picture. What you get is very much an estimate. All the medical staff will tell you that alcohol contributes to ill-health. It exacerbates hypertension and things that you do not necessarily see. They may not come in drunk, but they have hypertension or liver disease or whatever else. I did ask one of the senior district medical officers for a couple of comments and she asked me to mention these things. There is a high incidence of sexually-transmitted disease in the Northern Territory. The incidence of gonorrhea specifically is 249 times the national average. This can be alcohol-related and so on. It is not merely outer communities, but Darwin and urban areas as well. Diabetes is very difficult to control. Anything that requires patient self-management is very difficult to control when alcohol is involved. There have been 2 alcohol-related deaths that we know of at Kalkaringi in the last month. Alcohol is a little more easily available there. In relation to expenditure on alcohol, we know for a fact that Hodgkins Downs community spent $1000 for 10 cartons of green cans to be flown in. Mr BELL: A $1000. Mr GELDING: For 10 cartons. There was havoc in the community that night when those 10 cartons were drunk. The problems are there and I do not have the answers for them. We try. to work with the Aboriginal communities at Barunga/Beswick which are close to Katherine. They have had the wet canteens and not had the wet canteens. You would be familiar with the taxi rank at Beswick. It is a community problem and it is a government problem. It is everyone's problem. Mr BELL: What has been the experience with the wet canteen at Beswick? Mr GELDING: It depends whom you talk to. If you talk to Sammy Bush and others, they will say it is fine and that they can have their 6 cans and that is it. However, there is another half of the community down at the taxi rank or in the 9
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