- There was a strongly held view by the community and service providers interviewed that people should be allowed to drink in their homes again as “it was working well”.
- The Health Centre data provide hard evidence of greater alcohol-related harms since the NTER Prescribed Areas came into force.
- Unless the Prescribed Areas were to be lifted, the only solution to this situation would be to instigate a permit system to allow individuals who so wish, to consume alcohol at home. There were mixed views in the community about such a proposal, ranging from resigned acceptance to the view of one woman who said: “That’s no good. That’s my home, I shouldn’t have to have a permit to drink in my own home”.
- The people of Elliott have many ideas and suggestions to improve health and wellbeing around alcohol, with support for more community education about alcohol, how to drink sensibly and what the responsibilities of a drinker are. Since the NT Living with Alcohol program ended, we were told, “not much has been happening”. A community education program could include a campaign about ‘standard drinks’ and safe drinking, and harm reduction strategies that are already being practiced by some community members such as take a ‘Sober Bob’ when driving to other liquor outlets and leave the children with non-drinking relatives so they are safe. The town needs assistance in the form of a facilitator who could help to coordinate a formal Alcohol Management Plan incorporating supply reduction, harm reduction and demand reduction.
- Both service providers and community members talked about the possibility of having another (or replacement) community-owned hotel or club that offers reasonably priced food, entertainment, a choice of drinking venues inside and out for all members of the Elliott community (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal), and a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere.
- Several service providers recommended the strategy of developing local organisations or groups that could include a focus on preventing and addressing alcohol related problems. Suggestions included visits from the Council of Elders and Respected People (CERP) in Tennant Creek that could set standards of behaviour and apply social pressure; a Men’s Centre where programs such as anger management could be held; revival of the local band; real jobs; adult education classes; and a qualified sports and recreation officer for the youth centre.
The people of the town and the town camps have been proactive in identifying social and economic issues that concern them, and have taken decisive action in the past to mitigate alcohol-related harm. Unfortunately, having actively invited the NTER to be implemented in Elliott (as far as we know being the only community to do so) the community members both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal express dismay that what was in place for managing alcohol has now been undermined, and they are experiencing a sense of powerlessness. While other aspects of the NTER seem to have been positively viewed in Elliott, there is universal concern about the negative impact the Prescribed Areas are having on the health and wellbeing of the community.
Dr Maggie Brady
Dr Carol Watson
15 August 2008