Based on extensive community consultation and research (see d’Abbs et al and Crundall), the GAG developed a broad Alcohol Management Plan in 2010. Comprising a range of strategies, it was designed to achieve three major goals:
More responsible alcohol supply
Enhanced treatment and care
Over time the circumstances and events happening in the region have changed and so too have the strategies and priorities of the Plan. The Plan remains a "living document" so efforts are concentrated on the most pressing and relevant issues confronting the community. Strategies also change as evidence of effectiveness becomes available and lessons are leaarned from experiences elsewhere. The current Plan of Action is a guide for 2017-2019 and is being constantly monitored.
Key Activity Update
There are several elements now in place or being examined to help improve alcohol management in the area.
A local Liquor Accord has been operating since 2012. It is an agreement between licensees in Jabiru and at Cooinda and South Alligator, Police, Licensing, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation and the Gunbang Action Group. It is designed to eliminate anti-social behaviour at licensed premises and enhance the enjoyment of patrons as a result. The Accord contains a number of provisions dealing with safety and security, the responsible service of alcohol, public amenity and patron conduct.
A Ban System for misbehaviour is also in place. The Liquor Act allows licensees to ban patrons from their premises. A local system has operated in Kakadu for a number of years to bring a coordinated approach to banning individuals across all licensed premises in Kakadu. This Banning Framework is incorporated into the Liquor Accord.
To support the ban system, a local photographic ID card has been developed and is available to Bininj people who live permanently in the region. The West Arnhem ID Card is an alternative form of identification that may be presented at local licensed premises and is accepted at Westpac in Jabiru. The card includes a photograph, person’s name, address, date of birth and signature. It is useful for people who do not have a driver’s license, a Proof of Age card or some other standard form of identification. To get a card individuals must submit various documents in support of their claims.
Banned Drinker Orders
In 2017 the Northern Territory Government introduced an updated version of the Banned Drinkers Register. People on the register are banned from buying takeaway alcohol for periods of three to twelve months. People can be placed on the Register for a varaiety of reasons, including:
- accumulating a combination of three Protective Custory Orders or Alcohol Infringement Notices within a two years;
- committing two low-range drinking driving offences (BAC 0.05%-0.08%) or one single mid-range or high-range drink driving offence;
- being Defendant on an alcohol related Domestic Violence Order;
- having prohibition conditions on a court order, bail or parole order;
- a decision by the BDR Registrar on the advice of family members and carers, or authorised persons such as a doctor, nurse or child protection worker
Individuals can even referred thmemselves for registration if they think it will help their situation.
A range of support services will be offered to people on the Register to help them deal with issues of alcohol misuse. Indivduals with a ban of six months or more can get assessed and have a specialist then recommend the best form of therapeutic support to be providced. If a person completes thre recommended program, the length of the ban can be reduced. Those on a shorter ban can request an assessment. The BDR does not make treatment compulsory.
The BDR system is managed by the Department of Health. Further details about the operation of thre BDR can be sought from firstname.lastname@example.org or 1800 237 226.
Liquor Permit Proposal
Much discussion and consultation has taken place since 2012, when Bininj first raised the idea of introducing a Liquor Permit system for Kakadu. A proposal is soon to be submitted for Government consideration. It is designed so Bininj living on outstations can take limited amounts of alcohol to drink at home.
Commonwealth legislation has prohibited alcohol being on Aboriginal land since the Emergency Intervention of 2008. The blanket ban was applied across the entire Territory. Prior to this there were only two places within the Park where alcohol was not allowed.
Liquor Permits offer a way for this situation to change in a controlled way. Bininj will have to be more accountable for alcohol issues among their own. They will also have the opportunity to demonstrate that they too can manage alcohol responsibly. The current ban does not allow either of these possibilities.
A Permit Committee will oversight the system. It will make recommendations about who should get permits and when permits might be removed. The Committee will include representatives from each community in the system and some Government officials. The Chair will be Bininj.
Strict processes will have to be followed for an individual to end up with a Permit. First, the residents of each homeland must decide whether they want to be part of the system. The views of non-drinkers, children and other vulnerable groups must be taken into account and any concerns they have need to be addressed. No homeland will be forced to be part of the system.
Homelands that are interested must then be endorsed by Police as suitable. Once approved, members of the community can apply for Permits. Applications will be assessed by the Permit Committee and recommendations made to the Director-General of Licensing.
There are rules that govern what Permits will allow and factors that can lead to the removal of a Permit or rejection of an application.. Persistent bad behavour or breaches of the rules by individuals can have a bearing on whether an entire homeland remains part of the system.