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
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 16 August 1990 Territory Employee Assistance Service for the establishment of the position in Alice Springs, previously mentioned. Alcohol misuse in the Territory is a widespread and complex problem wh i ch affects peop 1 e from all commun ity groups and a 11 age groups ei ther directly or indirectly. Problems related to alcohol abuse and misuse can be reduced only by the continuing development and implementation of broad-rangi ng and comprehens i ve serv ices such as I have descri bed, so that the harm assoc i ated with a 1 coho 1 consumpt i on in the Northern Territory is substantially reduced. This will not be achieved immediately, and the economi c effects of any reduct i on will need to be carefu lly cons i dered. However, our long-term aim must be a reduction in alcohol consumption. Progress to encourage changes in drinking patterns must be continued. Such programs can be very effective, for example, in reducing drink-driving and alcohol consumption during pregnancy. It is necessary also to take measures to reduce the ri sk of harm both to and from people who drink too much. The sobering-up shelters are part of that. The government has supported the establishment of community support groups for women and children who are at risk from drunken people. In central Australia, some exciting new initiatives are emerging following the women's march against grog in Alice Springs. Representatives of. 43 communities attended that march and consultations are continuing. Health committees are being formed within each of those communities, with the representat i ves nomi nated at the grog march p 1 ayi ng a maj or role. A st rong feeling of assertiveness is evolving among the women in central Australia, who are taking steps to control the situation. The member for Stuart addressed this matter. It is vitally important that Aboriginal people start to take control of decisions and the respons i bi 1 ity for thei r own 1 i ves. Wh i 1 st there is a great deal more that should be said about the alcohol issue, one point is fundamentally important: we cannot do everything. We are doing a heck of a lot but it, will all come to nought unless, as the member for Arafura. said, people are prepared to make some decisions for themselves and accept responsibility for thei r own 1 i ves. At the end of the day, we cannot keep sayi ng: 'We wi 11 do this for them or that for them'. We can provide the education and training and, in some ways, we can clean up the mess but, in the final analysis, unless people are prepared to accept responsibility for their own lives and for the consequences of their own actions, the problems will never really be resolved. We cannot keep adopting a paternalistic attitude in relation to alcohol problems. Future ~rograms must be directed to an approach which provides information and the opportunity for people to make decisions, but which leaves them to take those decisions for themselves. They have to live with the consequences of those decisions. Mr PERRON (Chief Minister): Mr Speaker, in speaking to the chairman's report, I would like to touch on one particular aspect of what is a multifaceted problem. . As several members have said, there is no single solution to the problem but, rather, a multiplicity of solutions. We must continue to search for new solutions. Certainly, there is a fairly wide divergence of views as to what those sol ut ions mi ght be, but I suppose the important point is that, if we keep talking, perhaps we will gradually gain some consensus. As honourable members know, I have been discussing these problems recently with people whom we call the traditional tribal Aborigines in 9957
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