An Aboriginal community leader is calling for emergency takeaway alcohol restrictions — enacted last month to crack down on grog-running — to be made permanent in greater Darwin.
- The law was introduced in mid-September amid a reported spike in grog-running
- It is only intended to be temporary and has been extended week-by-week
- An Indigenous leader says it is already reducing alcohol-related harm and wants it to be made permanent
Phillip Goodman is the leader of 15 Mile community, a settlement of about 50 people that is also known as the Palmerston Indigenous Village and is perched on the Stuart Highway south-east of Darwin.
He said he’d been to dozens of funerals for young people killed by preventable, alcohol-related harm in the past few years alone.
But he said since the introduction of the emergency power, many of the factors causing the harm have dropped off.
Under the law, people buying alcohol in Darwin and surrounding areas must either produce identification with a local address or satisfy the merchant they have a lawful place of consumption, or else they can lawfully be denied service.
The restriction was imposed in mid-September amid what NT Police called a “noticeable” rise in grog-running into remote Indigenous communities, including one instance where more than 100 bottles of rum were seized.
Mr Goodman said the laws are working as intended and he was beginning to win a constant battle to keep alcohol out of 15 Mile, where liquor is prohibited.
He said fewer itinerants had been travelling to the area to try to purchase liquor.
“That’s good that the police have come up with a new strategy to tackle alcohol getting into our community, the remote communities,” Mr Goodman said.
“Out there in remote communities you don’t want alcohol, people running wild — that’s where you get violence happening.
“I reckon it’s good, it should become permanent … it’ll make the community look better.”
Police to release report on restriction
NT Police is yet to produce statistics showing whether the restriction is working as intended, but the force has said anecdotally it appears to be having a “positive impact”.
A spokesman said a report on the effect of the change is expected to be released early this week.
Phillip Goodman rejected the notion it could be unfairly targeting Aboriginal people.
“Some people say you might be looking down a barrel of racial discrimination, but that’s not it,” Mr Goodman said.
He said while other Aboriginal elders may disagree with his stance, he wanted to “stand up and speak out” to help put an end to Indigenous Australians dying in alcohol-related incidents.
“I’m worried about them little kids, our next generation,” he said.
“What are they going to do — the same thing their parents and uncles and aunties are doing?
“For the last three, four years, I went to 20 to 30 funerals of young people dying through alcohol and drugs.
“If we could’ve prevented it by jumping on it early and fixing it up … we shouldn’t have those kind of deaths.”
NT Police confirmed the restrictions would continue for a fourth week, starting today.
Mr Goodman said he would like to see government legislate the restrictions permanently, but added that police and politicians should consult with community elders beforehand.