The Great Alcohol Debate: Macklin’s minimum standards

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Proposed minimum standards for Alcohol Management Plans in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities have been released for comment by Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin.

 

Under Stronger Futures legislation Ms Macklin has the power to sign off on the plans, a power that will be relevant to any move to introduce alcohol or stronger strength alcohol on communities, as has been mooted by the new Territory Government.

 

The proposed minimum standards specify that plans must be developed in partnership between government and community representatives and that these representatives should include “where possible” women, men, youth, the elderly, clan groups, traditional owners, and non-drinkers as well as drinkers.

 

The plans are to be directed at “reducing harm”. They require “broad acceptance” by the community, must be “feasible” and “effective” and, once approved,  they will be “expected to show progress” towards reducing harms. If they don’t, communities may be asked to “review and revise” their plans.

 

The plans should tackle:-

 

• supply reduction, including “strategies to address grog running and drug dealing, restrictions on sale or supply from local liquor outlets, restrictions on hours of sale for on-license drinking, restrictions on types and amounts of alcohol permitted to be sold to individuals and whole population for on-licence consumption within specific periods”;

 

• demand reduction, including “resources and measures for intervention, detoxification, treatment of dependent drinkers”; and

 

• harm reduction, such as “community patrols, adequate responses to violence and unsafe driving, sobering-up facilities, women’s shelters, sponsored sobriety groups, managed step-down facilities and longer term supported accommodation for people coming out of treatment”.

 

The plans must include measurable outcomes and an evaluation framework, or specify procedures to be used to obtain an evaluation framework.  The evaluation framework should allow for the assessment of any unintended consequences that may arise.

 

The plan should clearly identify a process for regular reporting to community residents in formats that are comprehensible and accessible to non-specialists.

 

The plan must include governance arrangements that clearly describe the roles and responsibilities of each of the agencies and participants in the plan, especially those involving the need for resources, and include a balance of Aboriginal community members and interests.

 

While primary responsibility for developing and implementing the plan rests with the community, effective implementation requires shared responsibility with other agencies. The plan should define the resources, roles and responsibilities of those other stakeholders, including local liquor licensees.

 

The plan should show clearly all relevant geographical boundaries, and explain how and why these boundaries have been chosen.

 

The closing date for feedback is December 14.

 

Source: FaHCSIA website.

 

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