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In his 2013 Social justice and native title report 2013, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, argues for a human rights-based approach to the contentious issue of alcohol use affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
In the report, Mr Gooda reviews approaches to alcohol management including Queensland's alcohol management plans and measures in the Northern Territory (NT) such as mandatory rehabilitation. He said the NT Government removed the banned drinkers register, despite community groups noting its positive effect. It also moved to criminalise people who escape from mandatory rehabilitation. 'What we have up there is almost thought bubbles into legislation about what might work and what might not work,' he said. 'What we are looking for is a considered approach to this and I unashamedly say it should be based on human rights.'
Mr Gooda wants to see communities organise themselves in line with good governance. 'I want to see our people exercising self-determination,' he said. 'I want these processes to be recognised, respected and supported by governments who have donned those relationships of mutual respect and good faith.'
Mr Gooda called for greater consultation on a local level and a move away from Canberra as the control centre. 'I think once the mentality of government moves from Canberra ... we will begin to see empowered communities emerge exercising real self-determination,' he said.
The report marked 20 years since the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Social Justice Commissioner role was established.