Liquor & violence: big increase after alcohol bans end in Northern Territory. Predictable results.

(22 Jul. 2022) “Liquor sales are skyrocketing in Alice Springs after long-term alcohol bans across hundreds of remote communities came to an end [17 Jul. 2022], with one bottle shop reporting a near tripling of sales.”

“NT Police said there had been a spike in anti-social behaviour and domestic violence incidents involving alcohol.”

“Police [in Alice Springs] on Thursday said officers had responded to 30 domestic violence incidents in the previous 24 hours.”

“Labor Member for Lingiari Marion Scrymgour said the issues facing the region were ‘playing out as we all feared’.”

“Ms Scrymgour slammed the NT government’s handling of the expiry of the Stronger Futures legislation, which saw previously dry communities made to ‘opt-in’ if they wanted to keep alcohol bans in place.”

“Ms Scrymgour said it was her understanding that only one camp out of 20 around Alice Springs had opted to remain dry.”

“Communities across the Northern Territory have until January 31, 2023, to apply to stay dry.”

(Abridged extracts from: Lee Robinson and Stewart Brash, “Alice Springs stores rushed with customers as intervention-era alcohol ban expires in NT”, ABC Alice Springs, 22 Jul. 2022.)

“Michael Liddle is an Alice Springs Councillor, an Alyawarre man from the remote eastern Barkly Region, and he’s worried lifting alcohol bans will do more harm than good: ‘When you’re consistently going to funerals because of alcohol, because of drunk driving, domestic violence, abuse, and we just haven’t gotten on top of alcohol abuse.’ Stronger Futures laws introduced by the Labor Gillard government a decade ago, expired at the weekend [17 Jul. 2022], making it legal for residents in dry communities and town camps to purchase and consume alcohol again. [Councillor Michael Liddle:] ‘There are people who have concerns, and there are people that cause havoc.’”

(Jon Daly, “NT alcohol bans end”, ABC Radio News, 18 Jul. 2022)

[Within a few days of the alcohol bans being lifted] “Alice Springs Mayor Matt Paterson called the 2GB open line earlier in the week, desperate to get the message across that crime rates in the Northern Territory are skyrocketing. Luke Grant spoke with him about the criminal activity, and the Intervention alcohol ban being lifted that could see more alcohol-fuelled violence.”

“In this week alone, there’s been as many as 28 domestic violence cases reported in one night (one night!) and a murder suicide that’s left a 17-year-old in a critical condition on top of that. The Northern Territory has rescinded its intervention bans on alcohol.” [Alice Springs Mayor Matt Paterson says:] “One of our bottle shops had an increase 300% sales in the very first day that the intervention had lapsed. So, you know, we’ve got Aboriginal peak health organizations screaming out, that have been screaming out for a long time, don’t let the legislation lapse! We’ve just opened the rivers of grog in central Australia, unfortunately! We’re seeing, as you said, … domestic violence … we’re up to over 50 in two days… We’ve had police spat on attending domestic violence incidents, someone up in Katherine in D.V. who was also killed. Unfortunately we’re a part of time that’s stepped back 10 years.”

(Luke Grant, “Alice Springs Mayor voices concerns on escalating crime rate”, Radio 2GB, 23 Jul. 2022)

“Intervention” Timeline

2007: Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act (Commonwealth). Object: “…to enable special measures to be taken to reduce alcohol‑related harm in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.”
2012: Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act (Commonwealth). Object: “… to enable special measures to be taken to reduce alcohol‑related harm to Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.”
2022: rivers of alcohol to return to many Northern Territory communities, with the expected domestic violence too. Unstated object: to enable the predatory alcohol industry to profit from the misery of everyone in the Northern Territory. 17 Jul. 2022 is a tragic day for so many victims of alcohol.
“The emergency response (dubbed the Intervention) was opposed by many Indigenous groups that were concerned about discriminatory policy. Ironically, some of those groups are at the forefront of arguing for the Intervention-era grog bans to be reinstated.” (Amos Aikman, “Indigenous Call for a Return of Alcohol Bans”, The Australian, 4 Aug. 2022)

Sometimes drinkers loose senate preselection fairly!

“Jacinta Price, the deputy mayor of Alice Springs council … defeated first-term Country Liberal incumbent Samantha McMahon, who was last week asked to leave the Senate chamber because her colleagues believed she was heavily under the influence of alcohol. She denied she was drunk and later said she was ‘unwell.’”

(Rob Harris, “Conservative Indigenous activist Jacinta Price emerges victorious in NT preselection battle”, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Jun. 2021.)

“Senator McMahon’s spokesman, Ashley Manicaros, said the Senator had only one drink with her Nationals colleagues earlier in the evening.”

(Jano Gibson, “NT Senator Sam McMahon’s office says she was ‘unwell’ in Senate, not intoxicated”, ABC News, 24 Jun. 2021.)

Reminder: everyone in parliament should always be sober, with no exceptions, no “only one drink!”

“She [Jacinta Price] has seen too many of her people poison themselves to death from alcohol consumption.”

(Lyle Shelton, “What I learned from Jacinta Nampijinpa Price”, 16 Sep. 2019.)

But sometimes drinkers GAIN preselection unfairly: says Senate Candidate Amanda Stoker

“Australia’s Assistant Minister for Women believes party preselectors did not give her the top spot on the Queensland LNP Senate ticket because her male rival drank beer with them more often.”

(Lydia Lynch, “Snubbed Stoker says rival won top spot by drinking more beer with preselectors,” Brisbane Times, 20 May 2021.)

Encouraging unlimited alcohol increases deaths during COVID isolation

In Queensland, the LNP’s top spot went to James McGrath: he was someone who defended the predatory alcohol industry against NSW Health when they wanted to have any cap on the amount of alcohol delivered to social housing apartment blocks! Does McGrath not know that unlimited alcohol will cause unlimited social problems? Alcohol, and even unlimited alcohol, is supposedly a good way to cope with COVID. Nonsense. Let senators forever quit defending the predatory alcohol industry!

(“‘Un-Australian’ for NSW Health to limit residents’ alcohol”, Sky News Australia, 10 Sep 2021, Liberal Senator James McGrath interviewed by a hotel manager Cory Bernardi.)

In USA, “after increasing around 2.2% per year over the previous two decades, deaths involving alcohol jumped 25.5% between 2019 to 2020, totaling 99,107 deaths.”

(“Deaths involving alcohol increased during the COVID-19 pandemic”, NIAAA, 15 Jul. 2022)

Grog huge problem, plain as nose on your face, for aboriginal deaths in custody – Noel Pearson

NOEL PEARSON: Well, I think that there’s not been a proper confrontation with the drivers of these problems. There’s been an unwillingness, for example, to make the connection between grog and the abuse. And, you know, these problems go back a long way. I come with a great deal of scepticism about many of the reports because the original Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, 17 years ago, didn’t – it identified grog as an issue, but it didn’t bring it out in relief. You know, the same as the nose on your face is in relief, it didn’t bring the grog out like the nose on your face.

Noel Pearson, ‘Pearson explains plan to overhaul Aboriginal welfare‘, 19 Jun 2007, 7.30 Report, ABC

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)

Gumbuli Wurramara aboriginal elder of Arnhem Land standing against alcohol

The story of the Anglican Aboriginal Churches in the Northern Territory cannot be told without including Gumbuli. He was the first Aboriginal person to be ordained as priest in the NT, and only the 2nd Anglican Aboriginal priest in Australia.

He was respected by many at Ngukurr for standing against alcohol being brought into the community. The community had already experienced what it was like to have alcohol freely available. He was aware of the violence and problems that went with the alcohol and wanted his community spared from the consequences of binge drinking, violence, sleepless nights, and frightened women and children who were unable to sleep because of the noise and fear of the violence.

Gumbuli also played a key role in the use of the local language in church. He preached and taught in Kriol. He was a strong supporter of the Kriol Bible Translation project. He selected the first Aboriginal members of the Kriol team and encouraged the translation work. He strongly advocated for Aboriginal partnership in the translation work and insisted that they needed the whole bible Kriol. In 2007 when the Kriol bible was dedicated and presented to the people he was very proud of what had been achieved and encouraged people to use it. He understood the value of reading the bible and preaching in the language the people spoke.

Extracts from EFAC Australia – Joy Sandefur’s book review “Gumbuli of Ngukurr”.

Continue reading “Gumbuli Wurramara aboriginal elder of Arnhem Land standing against alcohol”

Aurukun pastor says beer trucks introduced darkest decade in the history of Aurukun

[Herbert Yunkaporta, a local pastor at Aurukun, Queensland.]

In 1985, the Queensland government forced the imposition of a wet canteen at Aurukun against the vehement objection of elders.

Within a decade, homicides, non-existent at Aurukun during much of the mission era, had risen exponentially, and suicides were not far behind.

He vividly remembers … the day that alcohol came to Aurukun [1985].

“The memory is so clear to me,” Herbert says.

“We were walking down to the river to have a swim, and we saw these trucks come in laden with pallets of beer stacked up. We just stood there in silence, in amazement, just speechless.”

The wet canteen adjoined the park and was surrounded by a fence, but it didn’t stop young people breaking the rules.

“I remember seeing a boy who was my age actually put a hole through a fence and suck on a beer from a jug,” Herbert says.

“This is where I believe that Aurukun started nosediving down. That next decade alone was the darkest decade in the history of Aurukun.”

Natasha Robinson, “‘Aurukun needs to be awakened’: Local pastor hopes town at ‘turning point’ after difficult past”, ABC News, 27 May 2016

Aboriginal Elder Joe Brown calling for total grog ban at Kurnangki

‘Aboriginal elder Joe Brown, 63, a leader of Kurnangki, one of three communities bordering the town centre, said children as young as 12 were into drugs and alcohol.

“We should have a total grog ban,” he said.

Mr Brown, whose 25-year-old son committed suicide last year, said he did not want the army brought in to WA but supported extending to the state the total alcohol bans being proposed in the territory.

Marra Worra Worra Aboriginal Corporation chairman Ivan McPhee, an elder, said the situation in the town was getting worse. He wants tougher alcohol restrictions, including a total ban on takeaway sales, and says the issues are the same as those confronting most of the Kimberley.

“Our kids are going out of control, wandering around with no jobs,” he said. “We are losing a lot of young people to alcohol and drugs. We never heard anything about hanging until drugs and alcohol came.

“We are having a funeral every day. A lot of people are talking about (child sex abuse). We are hearing things about rape.”’

Jessica Strutt, ‘Elders call for more alcohol bans’, The Age, 14 July 2007.

Thank Christ for sober aboriginal ladies!

58.2 % of indigenous women (aged 18+) do not drink alcohol. Thank God these women had never consumed alcohol (or at least not within a week of the survey).

‘In 2004–05, Indigenous people aged 18 years and over were more likely than non-Indigenous people to abstain from drinking alcohol.’

The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2008, Ch. 8, Health Risk Factors, p. 141-142.

‘Women may be abstainers for a variety of reasons. Christianity is frequently a reason proffered by Aboriginal women to explain their non-drinking status, and they form the core of participants in the variety of Christian churches and movements across Aboriginal Australia. At Yalata in South Australia, for example, a new Aboriginal-controlled Christian movement provoked many drinkers to stop their alcohol use and gave encouragement to women non-drinkers in their efforts to curb the importation of alcohol into the community (Brady & Palmer 1988). The adoption of the perceived ‘Christian life’ is a way in which Aboriginal people may legitimise their abandonment of drinking (cf. Neich & Park 1988).
Other women say that they cannot drink because they have to care for their families, or even for their drinking husbands. Evidence given to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1988 suggested that whereas Aboriginal men had ‘learned’ their drinking habits from the hard, binge-drinking white stockmen, Aboriginal women encountered, or worked for, white women who were mainly missionaries’ or pastoralists’ wives, who tended not to drink alcohol (Alice Springs hearings, 7 October 1988, Dr C. Watson).
Women (and men) may give up drinking because of repeated encounters with gaol and the police (cf. Laurie & McGrath 1985)’

Alcohol Use and Its Effects Upon Aboriginal Women, Maggie Brady Visiting Research Fellow, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

WA premier says alcohol bans certainly reduce crime

WA Premier Colin Barnett says he would support permanent restrictions on buying alcohol in Port Hedland after takeaway sales were banned on Friday.

“I think that’s got a lot of merit, where alcohol bans have been put in place … it certainly reduces crime, it reduces domestic violence, kids go to school and communities are far better off,” Mr Barnett told reporters. Continue reading “WA premier says alcohol bans certainly reduce crime”

Alice Springs pastors against alcohol carnage

“Twenty-four Central Australian Lutheran pastors have called on government leaders to take urgent action about alcohol abuse in Alice Springs.

In a co-signed letter to federal government ministers (including the prime minister), shadow ministers, senators and senior Northern Territory MLAs, the pastors described ‘the unfolding tragedy’ in the Centre and requested the federal and territory governments to reduce the all-day trade in alcohol in Alice Springs, close ‘hidden bars’, designate one day a week on which no takeaway alcohol can be sold, and better manage welfare payments in order to restrict the purchase of alcohol.” Continue reading “Alice Springs pastors against alcohol carnage”