Alcohol Protection Orders Bill needs more work, say Aborigines

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – The Government should postpone passage of the Alcohol Protection Orders (APO) Bill in order to properly consult and to consider the evidence.

 

Our members agree with the NT Government that there is a dire need to address harmful effects of alcohol in the community, but we want to see a scheme to reduce harm that is evidence based and will deliver results.

 

Our concerns with the Bill include that it:–

 

• ignores health experts on effective ways to reduce alcoholism. An alcoholic will not stop drinking because they are placed on an APO;

 

• will result in more encounters with Police, and more alcohol dependent people being sent to jail;

 

• gives Police far-reaching powers usually reserved for courts;

 

• gives Police these powers not just for serious offences, but for almost all criminal offending;

 

• applies where a police officer believes the person was ‘affected by alcohol’ at the time of the alleged offence which sets a very low threshold;

 

• contains process for reconsideration and review of orders which is inadequate;

 

• does not establish a tracking system, such as the BDR, so there is no effective system to track people subject to an APO; and

 

• has unintended consequences. An APO prohibits a person from entering or being in licensed premises. Many local supermarkets in the NT are licensed premises. This may leave many people in regional and remote areas, particularly those on Basics Cards, with nowhere to do their shopping.

 

It is obvious that these APOs will disproportionately affect Aboriginal people in the NT who are already far more likely to have encounters with the justice system, and to be targeted by police.

 

Jonathon Hunyor

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT

 

APO NT is an alliance comprising the Central Land Council (CLC), Northern Land Council (NLC), Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT), North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) and Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (CAALAS).

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  1. Terry
    Posted November 9, 2013 at 1:08 am

    The APO sounds exactly like something that the Alice and the NT desperately need. Good to see that it is being put in place. As far as “watering it down” – forget it. It is time for the state to get tough.

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