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Remote WA Aboriginal communities opt for booze ban

Date posted: 26 July 2017

Alcohol will be banned in more than 20 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia's (WA) far north by the end of this year, with further booze restrictions being considered.

Racing and Gaming Minister, Paul Papalia, said two Aboriginal communities, Bungardi and Woolah, would be booze-free zones by next month.

Speaking from Fitzroy Crossing, Mr Papalia said requests to outlaw booze had been made by local Aboriginal leaders.

Mr Papalia also did not rule out tough new alcohol restrictions in the Pilbara towns of Port and South Hedland after a request from WA Police earlier this year.

He said he would need evidence the proposed measures, such as banning the sale of full-strength beer, would work.

In Bungardi and Woolah, residents who break the new law will be hit with $5000 fines. There are already 18 'dry' communities in WA.

'This is a policy whereby remote Aboriginal communities who are suffering from the impacts of addiction to alcohol can seek to ban alcohol in their communities,' Mr Papalia said. 'It is commendable that the Aboriginal people in these communities have negotiated among themselves to come to the Government and ask for these bans.'

In January, the Director of Liquor Licensing received a report from police about the extent of alcohol-related harm in Port and South Hedland.

Licensees have been given until September to provide comments and evidence to matters raised in submissions and in the report from police. A ban on the takeaway sale of full-strength beer and pre-mixed alcohol was part of amended alcohol restrictions being sought by Port Hedland police.

'I wouldn’t preempt any decisions but I would be looking for some robust evidence that demonstrates that there is likelihood of success before anything like (banning the sale of takeaway full-strength beer) was suggested,' Mr Papalia said. 'I am not saying I would reject these proposals. But I will be looking for as much knowledge as there is about what the likelihood of these proposals succeeding is.'

'We have to make sure we are not creating a problem elsewhere. Commendably, people will always argue for less access to alcohol. But I would say that part of the objective should be changing our drinking culture,' he said.

Source: perthnow

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Last updated: 26 July 2017
 
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