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