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Date posted: 24 October 2013
An Aboriginal legal aid service says Alcohol protection orders will not address the problems of alcohol use in the Northern Territory (NT).
The Government wants to ban anyone who commits a serious offence while drunk from buying or possessing alcohol for up to a year. If they breach the bans, they can be jailed for three months. Anyone who supplies alcohol to a banned person can also be jailed.
Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (CAALAS) Legal Officer, Mark O'Reilly, says all the orders would do is put additional pressure on courts and overcrowded prisons.
He says the Government is looking for ways to channel people into the prison system, and that is going in the wrong direction. 'What it is doing is criminalising alcoholism, which is something that's been spoken against over and over again over the years. It is contrary to what is said in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and, basically, what it means is that people will be jailed for being dependent on alcohol,' he said.
Mr O'Reilly says other approaches are needed. '[There] needs to be more focus on encouraging people into therapy, into the appropriate way of looking at providing culturally appropriate alcohol rehab programs,' he said.
Chief Minister, Adam Giles, says about 60% of offences against persons and about 70% of domestic violence offences are alcohol-related.
He says the Alcohol protection orders will complement existing mandatory alcohol rehabilitation programs. 'Where Alcohol mandatory treatment is a health program, Alcohol protection orders are aimed at tackling the dangerous cocktail of alcohol consumption and serious crime," Mr Giles said.
Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation