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Alcohol bans have brought real and lasting benefits to towns

Date posted: 6 February 2015

The benefits of alcohol restrictions in the Kimberley town of Halls Creek, Western Australia, once likened to a war zone by medical staff at the hospital's emergency department, have been substantial and long-lasting, new research says.

A West Australian Drug and Alcohol Office report, due to be released in February 2015, shows reductions in alcohol-related harm in Halls Creek have been sustained, five years after liquor restrictions were introduced in 2009.
The ban on the sale of full-strength takeaway alcohol in that remote town followed a 2007 ban in Fitzroy Crossing, 290km east of Halls Creek by road. It has since emerged that one in eight children born before the alcohol bans in the Fitzroy Valley have Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

The latest report on Halls Creek has found alcohol-related hospital presentations remain 39% fewer than in the year prior to the alcohol restrictions.

The proportion of assault and domestic violence offences that are alcohol-related has dropped substantially and the number of such offences has more than halved in Halls Creek, the report states.

Aboriginal leader, Doreen Green, who was among Halls Creek residents who fought hard for the restrictions in the face of fierce and well-resourced opposition, said the results were pleasing but not surprising. 'I think Halls Creek's story is a lesson to other towns. I would encourage anyone who knows this is what their community needs: do it. I saw such a lot of devastation in my home town because of alcohol, and the kids were wearing it.'

Western Australia's Child Protection Minister Helen Morton said it was important to understand what the statistics meant for children: in short, that their lives were more peaceful and stable. 'Children in this community are going to school, getting better educated and they have better home lives than before,' Ms Morton said.

Source: The Australian


Last updated: 5 February 2015
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Australia's National Research Centre on AOD Workforce Development National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre National Drug Research Institute