"... you'd ask the security blokes how many people had been on the BDR, and they would say, 'oh yeah, 20, or 50, or lots of people'."With 800 of central Australia’s drinkers listed on the register and unable to purchase alcohol, the impact on the animal bars was undoubtedly significant. "I was in those bars in September after the BDR was scrapped," said Bob Durnan, a community development worker in central Australia for over 30 years, "and you’d ask the security blokes how many people had been on the BDR, and they would say, 'oh yeah, 20, or 50, or lots of people'." In May 2011, as part of its "Enough Is Enough" alcohol reforms, the territory’s former Labor government extended the operation of the BDR beyond the alcohol management plans of Alice Springs, Gove and Groote Eylandt to include 2500 drinkers across the territory. Announcing the package, the Labor attorney-general, Delia Lawrie, acknowledged "alcohol is the biggest cause of crime in the territory, with 60% of all assaults and 67% of all domestic violence incidents involving alcohol, costing our community an estimated $642 million a year". That figure represents $4197 for every adult territorian, almost four-and-a-half times the national figure of $944 per adult, and includes costs incurred by health and medical emergency services, police, the courts and corrective services, and loss of workplace productivity, but not the social cost of alcohol abuse’s contribution to intergenerational poverty and disadvantage. Alcohol consumption in the Northern Territory, and in Alice Springs in particular, has long been notoriously high. In 2000, prior to the implementation of a series of alcohol management initiatives in Alice Springs, central Australians drank an average of 17.65 litres of pure alcohol per person each year, 1.76 times the national average. But by 2008, according to a study conducted last year by the National Drug Research Institute, that figure had decreased to an estimated 13.75 litres of pure alcohol per person, 1.25 times the national average, and alcohol-related assaults and hospital admissions had also fallen. The study attributed these trends to the effectiveness of price-related strategies in Alice Springs to reduce overall alcohol consumption by facilitating a switch from cask wine to beer. The study also found that at least one of three other initiatives -- enforcement of the "one per person per day" restriction, the introduction of ID cards, and the alcopops tax -- had significant effects in reducing consumption, but the coincidence of these reforms made it hard to say which had been most effective. Nevertheless, the use of ID scans accompanying the BDR appeared to have reinforced measures to limit the quantity of specific alcohol products purchased by individuals each day. *Read the rest of this article at Inside Story
A ‘right to drink’ in Alice? Banned boozers register debate
The NT government’s abolition of the Banned Drinkers Register has divided opinion in Central Australia. Swinburne Institute for Social Research research fellow Eleanor Hogan reports for Inside Story.