The Northern Territory news Sat 23 Jan 2010
The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
www.ntnews.com.au Northern Territory News, Saturday, January 23, 2010 25 P U B : NTNE-WS-DA-TE:23-JGE:25 CO-LO-R: C-M Y-K It goes on crackers, on crispbreads, on a celery stick. Its the Vegemite that goes on anything, anytime. K R A 3 6 5 6 _ B must be accountable Alcohol management plans are not a panacea,but the limited evidence available to date ... suggests that in the NT they help to reduce alcohol-related problems, including violence RESTRICTIONS: A Northern Territory Alcohol Restriction sign outside Alice Springs So what is different about Darwin and Palmerston? The most obvious difference is that here, in contrast to the other regional centres, no attempt has been made to implement an Alcohol Management Plan (AMP). AMPs are the NT Governments preferred vehicle for controlling alcohol problems at the local level. They are intended to combine measures regulating the supply of alcohol with measures to reduce demand (eg education, treatment centres) and so-called harm reduction measures (such as night patrols and sobering-up shelters). AMPs are also designed to incorporate local community input with a sustained commitment by government and the liquor and hospitality industries. The Governments eagerness to promote AMPs in places such as Alice Springs, where much of the public drunkenness involves indigenous drinkers, sits oddly alongside its silence about doing anything similar in Darwin, where most of the late-night revellers are not indigenous. Similarly, it appears to be in no hurry to sharpen the powers of the Licensing Commission. A review of the current Liquor Act, recommending sweeping reforms of the regulatory powers of the Commission, was presented to the Territory Government more than 12 months ago and has since disappeared without trace. AMPs are not a panacea, but the limited evidence available to date from evaluations conducted in Alice Springs and Groote Eylandt suggests that in the NT they help to reduce alcohol-related problems, including violence. They are also potentially controversial, however, since they invariably entail restrictions on licensees and drinkers alike, and both groups are capable of making noise, withholding political donations, and voting. Perhaps in this light it is worth reminding our politicians that, whenever anyone has taken the trouble in the NT to find out what the community wants, as distinct from those who make the most noise or wield the most power, it turns out that most people DONT want the community to be a brawling pit for either indigenous or non-indigenous drinkers, and most are prepared to accept sensible restrictions on their access to alcohol if these will help to reduce the violence. Regulation and enforcement alone, it is true, will not prevent alcoholrelated violence, but without effective regulation, and political leadership backing that regulation, neither the police nor anyone else have a hope of changing a culture of bingeing and violence into a civilised drinking environment. Views expressed here are the authors personal views, and not those of the Menzies School of Health Research.
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