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A report last year to the Director of Liquor Licensing showed alcohol was a factor in nearly 77% of all domestic assaults in the West Pilbara within the 2010/11 financial year and its residents were almost three times as likely to be involved in an assault compared to the rest of the state. The report also showed that people in the region were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with alcohol liver cirrhosis and nearly three times as likely to have a stroke. As a result of the report, liquor restrictions were imposed on 18 towns in the region.
The Minister for Racing and Gaming, Terry Waldron, recently visited Warralong to gauge community support for section 175 liquor restrictions. If the legislation is approved, its 300 residents will not be able to consume, possess or supply alcohol within a 20-kilometre radius of the community and it will become WA's 17th alcohol-free community.
Police are hopeful another nearby Indigenous community will follow suit. 'Goodabinya is similar to what Warralong was like, in that there are a lot of problems with excessive alcohol consumption and the resulting assaults that occur out there,' Mr Vale said. 'People aren't quite convinced at this stage, so it's still early days, but we're hoping we can convince them and they can see that some of the assaults that have occurred not long ago in Goodabinya are the result of alcohol. It will be a better community for them and a better community for the kids.'
Bob Neville, Chief Executive of the Bloodwood Tree Association, says the banning of alcohol in households has also been effective. Under the laws which also came into effect last year, a person can apply to the Director of Liquor Licensing to make it illegal for alcohol to be consumed on their property. Alcohol is now banned in 36 households in the Pilbara, with 16 in Newman and 14 in the Port Hedland district. 'With the people we've got in alcohol free homes in South Hedland and Newman, you can see the difference,' Mr Neville said. 'The kids are going to school every day and the parents are out there looking to see if they can get some work and earn a bit of extra money. There has been a big difference which is borne out by statistics, particularly on the mortality rates from the consumption of alcohol.'
Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation