Alcohol bans will be reinstated in central Australian Indigenous communities and town camps.
The Northern Territory (NT) government will introduce legislation next week to return the areas to “temporary dry zones,” the Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said on Monday.
“We’ve heard loudly and clearly that the matter and decision of alcohol on community needs to be one that is made by the entire community,” she told reporters.
“This is why we’re creating a circuit breaker … until communities can develop and vote on the alcohol management plans they want to see.”
The federal government also announced it would invest $250 million in community safety and services in Alice Springs, in addition to the $48 million announced in January. Funding will go towards job creation, youth engagement, and support for health and domestic violence services.
“This isn’t just about alcohol,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told Parliament on Monday.
“It is about a lack of employment services, a lack of community services, a lack of educational opportunity. This is intergenerational disadvantage.”
The decision comes after Albanese visited Alice Springs in January amid growing frustration over alcohol-fuelled violence and theft.
He also met with Fyles in Canberra on Thursday, when they discussed recommendations submitted by the newly appointed central Australian regional controller Dorrelle Anderson.
Anderson, who was appointed after the prime minister’s visit, reviewed the territory’s opt-in alcohol restrictions that replaced expired intervention-inspired liquor bans last year.
Under the new legislation, communities can apply to opt out of the ban, as long as 60 percent of residents support the decision, and they have an alcohol management plan.
“Alcohol-related harm is still the NT’s biggest social challenge,” Fyles said. “But it is a legal product, and we need to manage the complexities of that product.”
NT Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said the measures were not enough.
“There was no promise of additional police or sending Australian Federal Police into Alice Springs, which would make an immediate impact on the ground.”
NT Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price earlier made an impassioned plea for alcohol bans to be reinstated in Alice Springs to tackle a surging crime wave.
Senator Price told Parliament her family had experienced sexual violence, trauma, and murder in central Australia because of alcohol.
Federal Labor MP Marion Scrymgour said of her hometown: “I was visiting the hospital over the Christmas break, and I saw firsthand how critical the situation was.”
“Nursing staff and doctors are run off their feet and beds are filled with alcohol-related crimes.
“But the underlying issues that drive the crisis in central Australia still need to be addressed: poverty, unemployment, a severe shortage of housing, family and domestic violence, disaffected youth, neglect of the bush.”
source: the epoch times