If community leaders believe banning the booze is only going to make things worse, they should be free to make that decision.
If community leaders believe banning the booze is only going to make things worse, they should be free to make that decision.

Time we stopped treating Aboriginal people like children

IT'S been more than a decade since the Howard Government's much criticised NT National Emergency Response policy - otherwise known as the Intervention - was rolled out in 2007.

Much of the flak the policy has copped in that time comes from a lack of consultation with communities and indigenous leaders on the ground before many of its more paternalistic aspects were imposed.

The legacy of one such measure, the knee-jerk ban on alcohol in certain parts of the NT continues to frustrate community leaders who wish to manage their own affairs.

READ: CALL for rethink on dry communities

The disadvantage faced by many Aboriginal Territorians is widely known and governments are right to make tackling it a priority. But arbitrarily wrestling autonomy from the hands of local leaders is not the answer.

As Ironbark Aboriginal Corporation's Trevor Hutchinson says, "a fair day's work is a fair day's play" and indigenous Australians are just as entitled to a cold beer at the end of a hard day's work as the rest of us.

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Graphic of where dry and alcohol restricted communities are in the NT.
Graphic of where dry and alcohol restricted communities are in the NT.


If individual communities decide they're better off without grog then they should be empowered to enforce that ban but it's time we stopped treating Aboriginal people like children and let them make their own decisions.

If community leaders believe banning the booze is only going to make things worse, they should be free to make that decision also.

Whether the Intervention was justified 12 years ago will always be a contentious issue but the time has now come for this measure to at least be reviewed.



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