Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007
Parliamentary Record 12
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 14 February 2007 3857 This strategy was initially trialled in Darwin and is now being used in Alice Springs. Feedback from residents and community organisations in Darwin has been very positive. There was a notable reduction in alcohol-related antisocial behaviour near the liquor outlets in the area targeted as itinerants moved away from those general areas. As I mentioned, a key feature of the governments approach has been to facilitate local solutions to local problems. Alcohol problems are not the same in every part of the Territory and the resources available to different communities to address these problems vary. Obviously, life on a relatively isolated community is markedly different from that in an urban Territory centre. Similarly, the five major urban centres of the Territory differ from one another in significant ways. It is recognised that each location has different priorities for attention and that different strategies sensitive to local conditions and circumstances may need to be implemented. This flexibility is being delivered through our alcohol management plans. These plans support local communities to develop their own responses to local alcohol and related issues. They require communities to look at issues in a strategic and connected way so that actions can be planned and linked to deliver the best possible outcomes. By detailing a clear framework for action, the plans also assist accountability of both government and non-government stakeholders to the local community. Alcohol management plans have to be both practical and achievable. They are dynamic in the sense that they are continually revisited and modified as circumstances change, or the effectiveness of strategies becomes obvious. They are typically structured around demand reduction, harm reduction and supply reduction. The Northern Territory Licensing Commission contributes to supply reduction by controlling the liquor licence conditions within an area. The decisions of the Commission can complement and contribute to broader based strategies. In some cases, communities want supply reductions. They see this as a way of securing some immediate change. In Nguiu, for example, full strength beer sales at the local club were suspended by the commission in 2006 following approaches by the community. The sale of only mid-strength and light beer has resulted in a significant reduction in violence and tension in the community, but we all realise there is more to do. In the first three months of the new restrictions, monthly alcohol-related after-hours call-outs for police dropped from 21 to one. While I am pleased to be able to point to positive outcomes like this, I share the concerns of my colleague, the member for Arafura, who feels that more has to be done to address the impact of some of these social clubs on remote communities. Like her, I believe we have to look at the wider ramifications of alcohol on individual communities. We have to get a more clearly defined picture of what alcohol means in its health and social impacts. Alcohol management plans can be initiated by any community, with government providing funding, expert advice and linkages at the departmental level. Government stays actively involved with each community through all stages in the development and implementation of a plan to help ensure the plan is realistic and manageable, while meeting both community and government expectations. Over the last 12 months, work has begun on developing comprehensive alcohol management plans and they are in various stages of development in a dozen communities across the Territory. The 12-month alcohol management trial began in Alice Springs in October 2006. Initial discussions with community stakeholders have also occurred in Batchelor, Daly River, Darwin, Borroloola and Mataranka. A number of other communities have made initial inquiries. Financial assistance has been provided to Tennant Creek, Katherine, Gove, Jabiru, Palmerston and Timber Creek to enable work to begin in canvassing the issues and options for alcohol management plans. These plans are expected to be rolled out over the first half of this year. In 2005-06, $94 000 was committed to the development of alcohol management plans across the Territory. A further $110 000 has been allocated for this purpose in the current financial year, along with $137 500 to assist in implementation. I would like to highlight a couple of these plans to show the impact that they can have and the directions they are taking. The Alice Springs plan was the first to be implemented. It was developed under the auspices of a high-level task force headed by the Chief Minister, major community leaders and included the Mayor and an alderman from the Alice Springs Town Council. The plan was announced in September and details 23 specific actions to be implemented by agencies such as Justice, Police, Health, Racing, Gaming and Licensing, as well as the non-government and commercial sectors. Early anecdotal reports suggest the plan is to produce positive outcomes that include a shift from wine products to beer and mixed spirits. I am pleased to report that, in the first three months of
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