The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs has announced an inquiry into the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
NACCHO Chair Justin Mohamed said the NACCHO secretariat will be working closely with its 150 members to make sure the role of Aboriginal Community Controlled health is recognised in any future long-term plans and recommendations as identified in NATSIHP the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health plan 2013-2023
NACCHO ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS NEWS ALERTS
The Chair of the Committee, Dr Sharman Stone, said that ‘The Committee is not singling out Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the only group that have problems with alcohol.
We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to abstain from alcohol than non- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However we are concerned that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who do consume alcohol, drink at riskier levels which has a greater impact on their health.’
Dr Stone said ‘while there is no doubt that alcohol abuse has a significant impact on families and communities right across Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are between four and five times more likely to be hospitalised, and between five and eight times more likely to die as a result of harmful alcohol use
‘Statistics such as these are of great concern. The Minister has supported the Committee’s determination to identify the social and other determinants of high risk alcohol consumption. We will also identify the strategies and programs which may have had some beneficial outcomes, comparing international experience. The prevalence and impacts of FASD and FAS will also be given a particular focus. We wish to hear from specialists and communities about what is working and why and submissions are now being called for.’
The Committee will inquiry into and report on:
Terms of Reference
The Committee will inquire into and report on the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with a particular focus on:
• Patterns of supply of, and demand for alcohol in different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, age groups and genders
• The social and economic determinants of harmful alcohol use across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
• Trends and prevalence of alcohol related harm, including alcohol-fuelled violence and impacts on newborns e.g. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
• The implications of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders being declared disabilities
• Best practice treatments and support for minimising alcohol misuse and alcohol-related harm
• Best practice strategies to minimise alcohol misuse and alcohol-related harm
• Best practice identification to include international and domestic comparisons
Interested persons and organisations are invited to make submissions addressing the terms of reference by Thursday 17 April 2014 .
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The chairwoman of a federal parliamentary inquiry into alcohol abuse has defended its focus on Aboriginals.
The Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs has released the terms of reference for a national inquiry into the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal communities.
It will examine alcohol supply and demand patterns, and alcohol-related violence.
It will also look at domestic and international strategies that have helped reduce the impact of alcohol-related harm.
Committee chairwoman Dr Sharman Stone says the effects of alcohol abuse are far more damaging in Aboriginal communities than elsewhere in Australia.
“The fact is there are probably more teetotal, or non-drinker, Indigenous than non-indigenous people,” she said.
“But when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do drink alcohol, they tend to drink at riskier levels, with a greater impact on their health than other Australians.
“We need to look at why is that the case.”
Dr Stone says Indigenous people are not being singled out as the only group with alcohol problems.
However, she says the inquiry is important because Aboriginal people are up to five times more likely to be hospitalised and eight times more likely to die from alcohol-related issues.
Last month, federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion proposed a wide-ranging national inquiry into violence and alcohol problems.
“This is not an inquiry that is going to be fenced off by racial grounds,” he said at the time.
“This is about a challenge that faces all Australians.”
A day later, the Federal Government announced that the inquiry would only consider the effects of alcohol on Indigenous people.
Dr Stone is urging Aboriginal communities to share their ideas about how best to combat the issue.
She says the committee is inviting public submissions for the next two months.
“We would be very interested in which communities might want us to look at their strategies, something they have tried that has worked or has not worked,” she said.
“We will, of course, be talking closely with state and territory governments to see what they have been up to in this area of concern.
“We know this is not just a problem of remote Australia or regional Australia.”