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Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 August 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 August 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Thursday 16 August 1990 final facts and figures are known, we will discover that the problem is just as great in the non-Aboriginal community as. it is in the Aboriginal community. I look forward to future statistics, reports and facts emerging from the investigations of this committee, and I congratulate the committee on the report that it has made today. Mr COLLINS (Sadadeen): Mr Speaker, I was pleased to hear the first report from the chairman of the Sessional Committee on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol by the Community. In some ways, one could be a little cynical and say that, as a resu lt of one's experi ence of 1 i fe, one knew already the attitudes to many of these matters. I am sure that members of the committee have found that they were aware already of many of the factors raised in the submissions and hearings. At this stage, the committee is hearing at first hand about the problems: the terrible sadness that grog has brought to the lives of many people in the community, the ways in which people's health has been ruined, how families have been broken up and the deaths resulting from alcohol abuse. I am sure that that is a very salutary experience. If easy solutions to these problems were available, I am sure that we would have appl ied them by now. However, people are free to drink and whilst, in many instances, we see that that produces devastating results in the lives of many people, we continue to.maintain that they have the right to pursue that course if they so choose' and that they must be thei r own judge. At this stage, whilst solutions have not yet emerged, the facts are being gathered and a reasonable start is being made. I hope that the next report by the committee will lay greater emphasis on suggestions for remedies. I am sure that people have made suggestions, as occurred when the Chief Minister met with a large number of Aboriginal women in Alice Springs. They had some very firm views, and the Chief Minister had to tell them that he was not in a position to implement laws that they would like to see enacted. Many Aboriginal people do not drink, and that is something that many people in the white community do not quite understand. Basically, I think that is because the drinkers from the Aboriginal communities, who are not acceptable in their own areas, tend to come to the towns to dri nk. That creates the fal se impress i on that most Abori gi na 1 people use and abuse alcohol. I believe that those Aboriginal people who have recognised the damage that alcohol does and who have given up drinking are the type of people who provide hope that we will overcome this problem to a large extent. It is a matter of example. We need high-profi le people, such as prominent footballers etc who are admired by young people, to state publicly that they do not drink because they want to be fit and healthy and that they are able to enjoy themselves without alcohol. That type of example could have a wi despread effect among young people. The anti -smoking campai gn has been running fora long time but, at last, it is starting to produce results. People are beginning to realise that it is not smart to smoke, and many are giving up. Many are following the example set by people whom they admire. Such people need to understand how they can influence people's behaviour. For example, there are prominent Aboriginal footballers who are greatly admired, They have an enormous capacity to influence young people and it is the young people whom we want to help because alcohol is addictive for them. For those who get caught up with it, it is pretty hard to shake. There is on ly one cure for a 1 coho 1 ism and that is total abst i nence which is very difficult for some people. I say that because I have known 1 or 2 people who have had to face that problem. I dare say that one of the reasons why I do not drink is because, when I left school at about the age of 16, my first job was in a bakery with a 9937