The Territory Government is determined to let Aboriginal people decide on whether they want grog or stronger grog in their communities. Minister for Indigenous Advancement Alison Anderson backs this while also expressing her confidence that 99.9% will say no to grog. Now Aboriginal Peak Organisations have announced a summit to get a “firm overview of Aboriginal views”.
Alliance spokesperson Priscilla Collins said “the effects of grog on our people here in the Territory cannot be denied. It is reflected in the health of our people, in the levels of alcohol-related family and communal violence, and our encounters with the justice and jail systems.
“At this critical moment in the Northern Territory’s history, this summit will give a voice to Aboriginal people throughout the Territory so they can give their views. As well, we will have access to evidence from the alcohol policy professionals—what works and what doesn’t work. Our politicians are right—the ultimate decision over managing alcohol on our communities must lie with our people—all of us.
“The real issue is that those decisions are made on the basis of having accurate information and evidence in making these decisions. The Grog in the Territory summit is designed to take important first steps in that direction.
“This will pave the way for the many meetings that will have to occur as communities across the Territory develop their own Alcohol Management Plans under the Stronger Futures program,” said Ms Collins who is also CEO of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency.
Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin has the power to sign off on alcohol management plans. In a radio interview on Friday, to a question about it being Aboriginal people’s “right to drink”, she said: “Well, I don’t think it’s a right to drink and then drink to the extent that you belt your wife and your children and they end up in hospital. I don’t think that’s a human right, I think those children and those women have a right to live safely in their homes and they’re the rights that I’ll be certainly fighting very hard to protect.”
She also said that she’s heard I’ve heard “loud and clear from Aboriginal leaders” both in Queensland and remote Northern Territory where in many places “they’ve had alcohol bans for a long time”, that “they do not want to see the return of alcohol and the devastation that that means for their families”.
The Peak Organisations’ summit will be held in Darwin on Friday 16 November.
Source: Daily Hansard, media release, transcript.