The Australian Government has released the minimum standards for Alcohol Management Plans, designed to help improve the safety of Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.
Refer recent article by NACCHO NT AFFILIATE AMSANT
These stringent minimum standards are part of the Government’s Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory package – a 10-year $3.4 billion investment to tackle Indigenous disadvantage and drive positive change.
The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin and the Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, today met with peak Aboriginal groups in Darwin who had provided valuable feedback to help the Government finalise the minimum standards.
“Alcohol continues to devastate the lives of too many Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory,” Ms Macklin said.
“It can lead to violence, make it hard to hold down a job and get the kids to school, and can destroy the health of families and communities.
“The Australian Government will continue to work with Aboriginal people across the Northern Territory to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed, help problem drinkers change their behaviour, and help to develop local solutions to keep communities safe.
“The minimum standards will provide additional protection to communities by ensuring Alcohol Management Plans are focused on reducing alcohol-related harm and keeping women, children and families safe.”
As part of the Stronger Futures package, alcohol restrictions have been continued in the Northern Territory.
Alcohol Management Plans are not about reducing or lifting alcohol restrictions in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, but about assisting Aboriginal communities to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.
The five minimum standards released today will ensure that everyone in a community has their say on the development of an Alcohol Management Plan, and that the plan is aimed at reducing alcohol supply, demand and harm and is tailored to each community’s needs.
Communities can choose to develop an Alcohol Management Plan with the assistance of local organisations and government staff.
Alcohol Management Plans must meet the new minimum standards in order to be approved by the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
For the Federal Minister to consider making any changes to alcohol restrictions in a community, an alcohol management plan that meets the minimum standards would need to be in place.
The Minister would also consider whether there has been a demonstrated reduction in alcohol-related harm and whether this would be at risk through the lifting of restrictions.
As part of Stronger Futures, the Government is committing $76 million to help tackle alcohol abuse over the next 10 years.
This includes funding to employ extra drug and alcohol workers where they are needed most.
During November and December 2012, the Government held targeted consultations on the draft minimum standards in almost 100 communities and town camps across the Northern Territory, and received feedback from community leaders, women’s groups, police, health workers and alcohol reference groups.
Key stakeholder meetings were also held in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Nhulunbuy, Darwin and Katherine.
Mr Snowdon said the Gillard Government was serious about tackling the harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
“Managing the supply of alcohol means it is easier for women to make healthier lifestyle choices during pregnancy when we know the safest option for the unborn child is not to drink,” Mr Snowdon said.
“We also know that alcohol consumption has an association with a range of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
“By implementing minimum standards in Alcohol Management Plans we can ensure the focus in communities is on protecting women, children and families, and reducing alcohol-related harm.”