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The most recent measure proposed by the Northern Territory (NT) government to tackle excessive alcohol consumption is Alcohol Protection Orders (APO), designed to block supplies to problem drinkers. Under these orders, particular people could be banned from possessing or consuming alcohol, and could not enter places licensed to sell it. Police would be allowed to stop and search someone they think may possibly be subject to an APO, as well as seize any containers they believe likely to contain alcohol. However, critics say it is misguided, and they are calling for postponement of the legislation to introduce the orders.
Dr Jonathon Hunyor, from the Aboriginal Peak Organisations group, says trying to impose laws onto a health problem is doomed to fail. He says the Territory government ignored the advice of health experts in developing these laws. Dr Hunyor says Indigenous people acknowledge that excessive alcohol consumption is a big problem in their community. But he says the proposed legislation should be postponed, while the Territory government consults more with Indigenous people on the best way to tackle the issue.
'The experts are saying that it's supply reduction that's a big problem...but that's not what the government's chosen to do, they aren't engaging with the rivers of grog that pour into our community every day. There's no evidence that this tough-sounding policy is actually going to work. It's a very heavy-handed way of dealing with a difficult social problem. We want the government to start working with Aboriginal people to come up with real solutions to these problems, we want them to base their approaches on what the evidence shows and what the experts tell us.'
Source: Special Broadcasting Service