Safety of aboriginal kids trumps so-called right to drink – says Cape York Institute

The abuse of grog and violence are epidemics their own right, not merely symptoms of underlying social and psychological problems.

Data shows a lot of violent offending is linked to alcohol … We must continue to improve the effectiveness of our approaches, and the QPC should consider what can be done to reduce alcohol and drug related harms.

the perceived ‘right to drink’ may interact negatively with the right of vulnerable community members, particularly children, to be free from violence and fear, and to grow up safe and healthy, to go to school, to be educated, and to enjoy high standards of physical and mental health.

There must be a clear process and authority by which alcohol restrictions, if relaxed or removed, can also be re-introduced according to the wishes of the community if an increase in the level of harm occurs. Community interests have little ability to successfully influence liquor licensing decisions to limit the availability of alcohol anywhere in Queensland, and more responsive systems must be introduced before it can be said that Indigenous communities are empowered to drive the approach.

To effectively respond to high levels of offending as the leading proximate factor for Indigenous incarceration levels, we must tackle the dense causal pathways involved in all their complexity. Factors include: cyclical and intergenerational disadvantage; low education and employment; overcrowding and homelessness; poor health, including mental health and cognitive impairment, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and disability; alcohol and drug abuse; early contact with the juvenile justice system and intergenerational incarceration; poor parenting, physical and sexual abuse, and the experiences of Indigenous children in out-of-home care. If we don’t tackle these foreground drivers of offending, we have no hope of reducing Indigenous incarceration.

(The Indigenous incarceration crisis: the Queensland Productivity Commission response is inadequate, Cape York Institute submission to Queensland Productivity Commission, Inquiry into imprisonment and recidivism, April 2019)

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