NACCHO members press release
The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress has expressed its dismay at the tragic news that the Senate Committee has recommended that the Low Aromatic Fuel Bill should not proceed.
Acting CEO of Congress, Ms Donna Ah Chee said, “There’s no denying that Opal fuel has dramatically reduced the number of deaths of young Aboriginal people in our region.
“The case for regulation of all drugs and dangerous substances is compelling, and we need action. We cannot bow down to a philosophy of extreme individualism. Such a philosophy undermines the very notion of living in community, where showing care and concern for each other should be the norm – not the exception.
“Here in Central Australia and many other parts of the country, we know that many young people have suffered a very disadvantaged early childhood and experience a lack of self-control as a result of this. These young people need a supportive environment to encourage them against using drugs in an uncontrolled manner,” Ms Ah Chee continued.
“Government can play a role in caring for kids in this area. It’s not an excessive measure for them to take. Many of these children have diminished ability to control themselves through no fault of their own.
“Opal fuel is an essential part of that supportive environment.
“Exactly the same argument applies to alcohol. Young people develop dependence in their teenage years – often due to a lack of self-control – and then go on to damage their brains, thus creating the biological changes that create addictions.
“An alcohol floor price set at the price of beer should be a critical part of creating a more supportive environment.
Research tells us that young people, who have limited income, choose the very cheapest forms of alcohol to get drunk. It comes down to the price per standard drink – not taste or quality – for those young people who drink in an uncontrolled manner.
“We also need a day a week – linked to Centrelink payments – where there is no take-away alcohol. As a society, we need to demonstrate that we can all live for a day without take-away alcohol, and that the world does not depend on permanent access to take-away alcohol. We all need a break.” Ms Ah Chee added.
“At the end of the day, Governments have an obligation to enact legislation that protects young people from those who prefer to place ideology and profits above the lives of our young people,” Ms Ah Chee concluded.
Media contact for Donna Ah Chee:
Emma Ringer, Communications Officer Ph: 0408 741 691 / 08 8958 3664