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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Did the NT's banned drinker register work?

Date posted: 24 March 2014

Emergency departments in the Northern Territory (NT) are facing 'extraordinary' increases in alcohol-related admissions, according to the Labor Party's Senator Nova Peris.

Senator Peris claims the increases occurred after the Banned drinker register, a Labor measure to stop problem drinkers from buying alcohol, was abandoned by the Country Liberal Party Government in August 2012.

'Alcohol-related emergency department admissions in Northern Territory hospitals increased by 80% in 14 months since it was scrapped,' Senator Peris said. She said that as predicted by police, lawyers and doctors, domestic violence rates and alcohol violence soared after the register was scrapped.

However, the NT Minister for Alcohol Rehabilitation, Robyn Lambley, says 10 years of data shows the register had no long-term impact on alcohol-related admissions to Territory emergency departments.

Dr Michael Livingston, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, says 'there is no obvious reduction in admissions following the introduction of the Banned drinker register, but something clearly shifted when it was removed, particularly in Alice Springs.'

Dr John Boffa, who works in public health in Alice Springs, says the register was working, but it was not in place long enough to see the effects. 

Senator Peris is correct that alcohol-related emergency admissions in NT hospitals have increased by 80% since the Banned drinker register was scrapped. However, attributing this significant change to the Banned drinker register does not present the full picture. 

Experts say it is too early to assess the reasons for the spike.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation Indigenous


Last updated: 21 March 2014
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