The CEO of the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA), Mrs Mary Buckskin (pictured above) has called for more action to address the problem of alcohol misuse among Aboriginal people in the Ceduna area in the far west of South Australia.
“AHCSA supported the findings and recommendation of the 2011 report of the State Coroner following the inquest into a number of alcohol-related deaths in the area,” she said.
“We are pleased that some of the recommendations have been implemented. In particular, the expansion of the sobering-up shelter managed by Ceduna-Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service is clearly better meeting the need.”
However, Mrs Buckskin stressed that much more must be done, as clearly problems persist. “There is a need for a more strategic approach involving Aboriginal communities and their organisations in Ceduna and surrounding areas, as well as Yalata and Oak Valley.
“Currently, some actions taken by some agencies are ad hoc rather than being part of an overall strategy, and are not necessarily helping the problem.
“There is no single magic bullet to address it. What is required is a range of strategies developed with appropriate consultation, and introduced in a coordinated way.
“We need strategies to reduce the availability of alcohol; we need strategies to ensure that people with alcohol problems have access to health services where they can be properly assessed and offered treatment; we need appropriate rehabilitation services for individuals and families,” Mrs Buckskin said.
She added that people who have alcohol-related brain damage need to be properly assessed and provided with appropriate services.
“Above all, it must be recognised that the people at most risk of alcohol-related harm or death come from the communities further west. A comprehensive strategy to deal with alcohol problems in the Ceduna area must include supporting people to return to their country and ensuring that the communities concerned are adequately resourced to support this happening.
“While this will require significant resources, in the long run a coordinated comprehensive strategy will save lives and money. And this is really an issue of human dignity,” Mrs Buckskin said.
The Aboriginal Health Council of SA Inc. (AHCSA) is the peak body representing Aboriginal community controlled health and substance misuse services, and Aboriginal health advisory committees across South Australia. AHCSA is an affiliate of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.
ENDS. For further information contact: Mrs Mary Buckskin, Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia Inc., 08 8273 7200.