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Examination of illicit alcohol and impacts on Aboriginal communities: report

Date posted: 31 August 2017

James Cook University's Professor Alan Clough has led a team that interviewed more than 380 people living and working in remote Aboriginal communities in Queensland, where there was either a total or partial alcohol ban.

According to the abstract of the co-authored paper, published in BioMed Central Research Notes, 'Indigenous communities in Queensland (Australia) have been subject to Alcohol Management Plans since 2002/03, with significant penalties for breaching restrictions. ‘Sly grog’ and ‘homebrew’ provide access to alcohol despite restrictions. This paper describes how this alcohol is made available and the risks and impacts involved. In affected towns and communities across a large area of rural and remote Queensland, interviews and focus groups documented experiences and views of 255 long-standing community members and service providers. Using an inductive framework, transcribed interviews were analysed to identify supply mechanisms, community and service provider responses and impacts experienced.'

Researchers, including team member Dr Michelle Fitts, were told that some illicit suppliers carefully watched busy local police officers, ready to alert others bringing alcohol into the area while also using decoy vehicles and false reports of suicides and accidents to divert police resources.

Professor Clough said the initial achievements in communities under alcohol restrictions have been undermined over time so that alcohol is likely to remain a lead contributor to the high rates of premature death and avoidable disease, crime, violence and injuries.

Professor Clough emphasised that the problem was not just one of law enforcement and ultimately needed a collaborative response involving other service agencies, including alcohol and drug treatment services.

Sources: NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts, BioMed Central Research Notes


Last updated: 31 August 2017
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Australia's National Research Centre on AOD Workforce Development National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre National Drug Research Institute