“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland)

Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin

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23 December 2010

ETHANOL PEDDLING AT TOP EFFICIENCY

Rivers Of Booze Flood The Alice  
Horrifying Efficiencies In Pubs Grog-floggers Boost Coffin Trade

Katrina Bolton reported this story on ABC's Lateline on 18/08/2010.

The national emergency in the Northern Territory is still a reality in Alice Springs, where 'rivers of grog' still flow.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: If there's one issue that hasn't had much attention in this election campaign, it's Indigenous affairs.

Five years ago the troubled lives and horrific deaths of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory were described as a national emergency, but the rivers of grog are still flowing in Alice Springs.

Now the man who buries the victims of alcohol is demanding change from businesses he says are making a killing and says governments haven't done enough to stop them.

Katrina Bolton reports.

KATRINA BOLTON, REPORTER: Basil Schild is a pastor in Alice Springs. He's speaking out because he's tired of burying his friends.

BASIL SCHILD, LUTHERAN PASTOR: A mother was burying her son number five. All her sons, she'd buried. All of them were alcohol-related deaths.

KATRINA BOLTON: He says he's done nearly 80 funerals because of alcohol and it's not just the drinkers who are dying.

BASIL SCHILD: Some of the coffins that have travelled through this room in which we sit, a 13-year-old girl whose stepfather would come home and get drunk and touch her up; she took her own life. A 26-year-old young woman whose partner would come home and get drunk and smash her up; she took her own life.

KATRINA BOLTON: The rivers of grog are still flowing in Alice Springs, four years after a report on child sex abuse called for urgent action. The Territory Government has cut the availability of cask wine and banned takeaway alcohol before 2pm, but it still allows some of the town's bars to open at 10 in the morning and behind darkened windows, hundreds of people hit the grog before lunch.

BASIL SCHILD: It will be totally crowded, it's full. There are elderly people, some of them frail, sitting on the floor. There's hardly any air-conditioning. The air is thick, it's hard to breathe.

JOHN BOFFA, PEOPLE'S ALCOHOL ACTION COALITION: The bar in the Todd Tavern, which is well-known throughout the community as the Animal Bar, is that bar that's only open from 10 o'clock in the morning till 2 o'clock. It closes as soon as the takeaways open.

KATRINA BOLTON: So busy is the Todd's riverside bar that the Licensing Commission last month suspended it for a week after CCTV footage showed 236 people inside when it was licensed for 100.

GP and alcohol campaigner Dr John Boffa thinks bars like the Todd are targeting alcoholics.

JOHN BOFFA: The sort of people that need to start drinking at 10 o'clock in the morning in a public bar are likely to be alcohol dependent.

KATRINA BOLTON: The other two bars are hidden. The Heavitree Tavern is tucked behind the supermarket on the outskirts of town. It's allowed to serve close to 150 people. And at the Gap View Hotel, their bar is completely unmarked, but the drinkers know it's there.

Inside, the bar is open, but you can't buy food, even at lunch, and like the Heavitree and the Todd, even though it's allowed to stay open, it closes at 2pm right when the takeaways open.

JOHN BOFFA: It seems as if the publican only wants to make space available for very heavy drinkers until they can sell them takeaway and basically get rid of them.

KATRINA BOLTON: While drinkers are on site, licencees are obliged to make sure people don't get too drunk, but the businesses have no legal responsibility for what happens after the drinkers go on to buy large quantities of alcohol at the bottle shops.

BASIL SCHILD: If you do the figures, those major hotels must be making an absolute killing.

KATRINA BOLTON: Fosters acknowledges the Todd and the Gap View are among their biggest individual beer customers in the country. Lawyer Russell Goldflam says they also feature heavily in court. [read his report: Damming The Rivers Of Grog - it takes some time to download]

RUSSELL GOLDFLAM, DEFENCE LAWYER: The horrible fact is that in the majority of the homicide cases in which I've been involved, cases where a killing was literally made, the perpetrator, the victim, the witnesses, they all bought their grog at these pubs.

KATRINA BOLTON: Alcohol keeps Alice Springs police extremely busy with assaults, rapes and untimely deaths. The town's Indigenous people are 14 times more likely than other Australians to die from alcohol. Figures obtained by the ABC show that in 2008-'09 the hospital treated nearly a stabbing a day.

Russell Goldflam says the violence almost always involves enormous amounts of takeaway alcohol.

RUSSELL GOLDFLAM: The standard killing: the victim was very drunk, the person who did it was very drunk and the witnesses were all very drunk. The standard serious harm, the standard rape: also, victim, perpetrator, witnesses - everyone's drunk.

KATRINA BOLTON: He says the scientific literature is very clear about how alcohol consumption can be cut, but the solutions are politically unpopular.

RUSSELL GOLDFLAM: Higher prices, shorter trading hours, a grog free welfare pay day, less outlets, a volumetric tax. It's not rocket science.

MARGARET KAMERRE TURNER, EASTERN ARRERNTE WOMAN: A lot of people are getting sick, a lot of people are dying. All my family have died from alcohol. The place where they buy alcohol, they wouldn't care. They like their money.

KATRINA BOLTON: Senior Eastern Arrernte woman M K Turner says it's time the Government drastically cut the number of alcohol outlets.

MARGARET KAMERRE TURNER: Well in my family they just drank so much ... because alcohol was there.

KATRINA BOLTON: Basil Schild says all the companies selling alcohol in Alice Springs need to take a hard look at the damage their product is causing. He's calling on the supermarket bosses and the CEOs of the companies that make the alcohol to come and meet the people on the flipside of their profits.

BASIL SCHILD: They would surely begin a conversation regarding their corporate social responsibility to ensure that their products are not reaping such total chaos.

KATRINA BOLTON: The pubs we've mentioned all declined to be interviewed for this program, as did Coles and the two major liquor suppliers, Fosters and Lion Nathan.

Fosters said in a statement that it's extremely committed to promoting a culture of responsible alcohol consumption and Lion Nathan said in a statement that no responsible player in the industry wants to make a dollar from alcohol dependency.

The Territory's Alcohol Policy Minister was also unavailable for interview. The Government has announced it'll buy back three of the town's takeaway licences, but the Todd and the Gap View are not being touched.

The Government is preparing to make more changes to alcohol laws. Basil Schild and M K Turner hope it happens soon before the cemetery gets any fuller.

BASIL SCHILD: Over here we buried another dear friend of mine. Very recently was lying drunk on the road just outside Alice Springs, hit by a car. Over here, another dear friend of mine - renal failure at the age of 39.

Many still-born deaths just here behind the tractor. Recently, this side, two suicides. Over there further, a dear friend of mine, I said to him, "If you don't stop drinking, I'll bury you next year." We buried him next year.

MARGARET KAMERRE TURNER: You know, people have stopped - old people have stopped crying now. They got no more tears to cry.

21st CENTURY MIDDEN: WHEN TIME MAGAZINE PUBLISHED THIS PHOTOGRAPH IN AUGUST 2006, MANY ABORIGINAL GROUPS WERE OUTRAGED, SUGGESTING THAT WHITE PEOPLE WERE JUST AS LIKELY TO DRINK TO EXCESS

TONY JONES: Katrina Bolton with that report.

The World Today on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 12:30:00

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Hello I'm Elizabeth Jackson and this is a current affairs special.

Alice Springs is famous around the world. But the town in the very middle of Australia has a darker side. It has the nation's highest rate of alcohol-related death.

A few years ago the abuse and dysfunction that alcohol helped generate were thought to be so serious that a national emergency was declared.

But the rivers of grog are still flowing in Alice Springs.

Katrina Bolton reports.

KATRINA BOLTON: Basil Schild is a pastor of a small church in a town he says is drowning in grog.

He wants to stop burying his friends.

BASIL SCHILD: I was involved with a funeral for the fifth son, a mother was burying her son number five. All her sons she'd buried. All of them were alcohol related deaths.

KATRINA BOLTON: A recent Menzies School of Health report found Indigenous people in Alice Springs are 31 times more likely than other Australians to die of alcohol related causes.

Pastor Basil Schild say he's done more than 80 funerals for people who've died because of alcohol; in car crashes, being run over by road trains, murders and still births.

BASIL SCHILD: In one year we had three members of the parish were murdered, three women, all of them by their partners who were drunk.

KATRINA BOLTON: He says it's not just drinkers who are dying.

BASIL SCHILD: The bodies of people who have travelled though this room include a 13 year old girl whose stepfather would come home and get drunk and touch her up - she took her own life. A 26 year old young woman whose partner would come home and get drunk and smash her up - she took her own life.

KATRINA BOLTON: A landmark report on child sex abuse nearly four years ago described what it called "rivers of grog" in the Northern Territory and called for urgent action.

The Territory Government has cut the availability of cask wine in Alice Springs and banned takeaway alcohol before 2pm - moves it credits with reducing total alcohol sales and the murder rate.

But behind blackened windows places like the Todd Tavern are still allowed to run bars where hundreds of people hit the grog from 10 in the morning.

Inside it's packed. The Todd's liquor licence is valuable enough that it's held by six small companies.

Alice Springs GP and alcohol campaigner Dr John Boffa thinks this type of bar targets alcoholics.

JOHN BOFFA: The bar in the Todd Tavern which is well known throughout the community as the animal bar, is a bar that's only open from 10 o'clock in the morning till 2 o'clock. It closes as soon as the takeaway is open.

KATRINA BOLTON: At the Todd Tavern people passing by in the morning can sometimes see drinkers queuing outside.

But two other similar venues in Alice Springs are far more hidden.

The Heavitree Tavern is behind a small supermarket on the outskirts of town. Its widows are tinted almost black. It's impossible to see how many people are inside.

And at the Gap View Hotel at the foot of the town's famous mountain range the bar is completely unmarked. There is only a dirt track to the door. But inside it's licensed to serve close to 150 people.

Like the other two bars the clientele is almost exclusively Indigenous. Most of the drinkers will tell you they're unemployed.

The Gap View's bar is open over lunch but it doesn't serve food - only grog. And like the other two bars it closes at 2pm, right when the takeaway bottle shops open.

Dr John Boffa says while licensees are responsible for people while they're on site they have no legal responsibility for what happens after the drinkers go on to buy alcohol at the bottle shops.

JOHN BOFFA: For me it's a very cynical exercise. It seems as if the publican only wants to make space available for very heavy drinkers until they can sell them takeaway and basically get rid of them, get them off site.

KATRINA BOLTON: Lawyer Russell Goldflam has spent 15 years dealing with the assaults, rapes and murders that sometimes follow.

RUSSELL GOLDFLAM: The standard killing: the victim was very drunk, the person who did it was very drunk and the witnesses were all very drunk.

The standard serious harm the same, everyone was very drunk.

The standard rape also victim, perpetrator, witnesses, everyone's drunk. And when I say drunk I mean very drunk.

KATRINA BOLTON: He says anyone seeing the volume of alcohol sales that get described in court should be able to realise that harm is likely to come from it.

RUSSELL GOLDFLAM: It's not uncommon to say, well we bought one carton of VB and then we had a carton of Tooheys Extra Dry and then we had a carton of something else and then we drank a bottle of rum.

How many people are you talking about?

Oh, four or five.

KATRINA BOLTON: Outside the bars the 2pm rush is intense.

People aren't allowed to walk through the bottle shop so they pour out of the pub and battle for seats in the taxis and mini vans that appear to whisk them the few metres to the drive-through.

Lawyer Russell Goldflam says most of the Indigenous people buying the takeaway alcohol don't have a place where they can legally drink it.



RUSSELL GOLDFLAM: They're entitled to buy alcohol but they're not allowed to drink it either in a public place or in the privacy of their own home because the town camps in Alice Springs are all prescribed areas under the Northern Territory Emergency Response legislation of the Commonwealth.

So unless they've got a mate who lives in some other form of accommodation where it is legal to drink there is nowhere that they're allowed to legally drink within the town boundaries of Alice Springs.

KATRINA BOLTON: But at the Gap View Hotel with the bar closed the surge on the bottle shop is so intense it even creates a traffic jam.

Pastor Basil Schild believes this set-up fuels problem drinking because the bars allow people to start drinking early and then just before they're legally drunk kick them out and sell them large amounts of takeaway alcohol.

BASIL SCHILD: Dr Philip Nitschke the euthanasia advocate gets in trouble for supplying an elderly woman with a bottle of tablets that she might use to kill herself. But here we have like a mass euthanasia happening with people making huge profits, retailing to people substances that are killing them. So where's the outcry about that?

KATRINA BOLTON: Alice Springs is a small place and while the venues' profits are secret the liquor supplier Fosters acknowledges the Gap View Hotel and the Todd Tavern have been among its biggest individual beer customers in Australia.

BASIL SCHILD: If you do the figures those major hotels must be making an absolute killing.

KATRINA BOLTON: Lawyer Russell Goldflam agrees.

RUSSELL GOLDFLAM: It's a horribly apt expression. The horrible fact is that in the majority of the homicide cases in which I've been involved, cases where a killing was literally made, the perpetrator, the victim, the witnesses, they all bought their grog at these pubs.


KATRINA BOLTON: The ABC did approach the three pubs for interview but they declined.

So did the liquor suppliers Fosters and Lion Nathan although they issued statements saying they don't want to make money from alcohol dependency.

But Pastor Basil Schild believes that if the companies aren't happy with the way their products are being sold they could pressure the pubs and retailers to change.

BASIL SCHILD: Perhaps the company directors are just unaware of what a devastating and terrible impact their products are having in Central Australia. Because I think if they were aware they would surely begin a conversation regarding their corporate social responsibility to ensure that their products are not reaping such total chaos.

KATRINA BOLTON: He says companies should factor in the impact drinking has on children.

BASIL SCHILD: An Aboriginal child, on average they're attending 10 funerals a year. By the time they're 10 they've been to 100 funerals.

A 10 year old child is totally enmeshed and engaged with a never ending cycle of grief even though they are not yet consumers of alcohol.

KATRINA BOLTON: The only player in the alcohol industry willing to talk publicly was the organisation that represents the Territory's pubs - the Australian Hotels Association.

Its president is Mick Burns.

He says for the three Alice Springs pubs there is no easy solution.

MICK BURNS: I see that there are a large number of that clientele that would be problem drinkers.

KATRINA BOLTON: He says because they're problem drinkers they'd leave anyway as soon as cheaper takeaway drinks were available.

MICK BURNS: Those hotels don't choose to close at two o'clock. There's no good keeping a hotel open when you've got no clients inside.

KATRINA BOLTON: And he says all three bars operate within their licences.

MICK BURNS: And I think if people turn up to our pubs and they're sober, they're properly attired and there's no reason to exclude them from licensed premises. Unless there's a particular reason it opens up a Pandora's box of problems for licensees if we don't serve those people.

KATRINA BOLTON: Some of Alice Spring's Indigenous residents including drinkers think the pubs' licences need to change.

Kevin Wirri lives at Abbotts' Camp, a cluster of Aboriginal homes just opposite the town's dry Todd River bed.

In the 90s he and his wife fought to have alcohol banned from the camp despite opposition including from the police.

Today there's a big "no alcohol" sign at the entrance but the ground sparkles with empty cans. One house has more than 80 in the front yard.

Kevin Wirri tried to stay off the grog but he says so many people drink and there's a cultural obligation to share so the social pressure was overwhelming.

KEVIN WIRRI: Aboriginal people well you know they really want to drink you know more, more, more, just keep on drinking.

KATRINA BOLTON: He says when he refused to drink friends and relatives told him they'd never visit or speak to him again.

KEVIN WIRRI: Well they'll turn around and say you know he trying to be like a white man. They'll say he's a white man. He doesn't want to live with us you know, our way.

KATRINA BOLTON: Grandmother Christobel Swan feels like she's fighting a losing battle trying to stop her relatives from drinking themselves to death.

CHRISTOBEL SWAN: I try, I talk to people, "Hey come on lass," you know. I talk to my families, "You've got to stop drinking you know? Stop drinking!"

KATRINA BOLTON: She says she's already lost a lot of her family to alcohol in suicides, car crashes and stabbings.

But she says while the pubs open at 10 every morning the drinkers keep rolling out of bed and heading straight there, leaving children behind.

CHRISTOBEL SWAN: They got no food you know, kids they're walking round asking somebody else for $2 or something like that you know.

KATRINA BOLTON: Fellow grandmother and Eastern Arrernte woman MK Turner says the all-day drinking culture needs to be broken.

MK TURNER: All my family have died from alcohol and I'm just talking from my heart.

KATRINA BOLTON: She says the non-drinkers want to help people get off the grog. But it's impossible while there are so many takeaway outlets in town.

MK TURNER: In my family they just drank so much because alcohol was there. Why is the Government letting people to have so many outlets? The place where they buy alcohol, they wouldn't care. They like their money. People like money. They follow money.

KATRINA BOLTON: Lawyer Russell Goldflam has spent years researching alcohol policy.

RUSSELL GOLDFLAM: What's popular generally doesn't work very well and what works very well generally isn't popular when it comes to alcohol harm reduction.

KATRINA BOLTON: He says the scientific literature is very clear about what works and it requires measures that affect the whole population.


RUSSELL GOLDFLAM: We need to make grog less readily available. It may not be popular but it'll work. Higher prices, shorter trading hours, a grog free welfare payday, less outlets, a volumetric tax - it's not rocket science.

KATRINA BOLTON: It's an assessment backed up by alcohol policy researchers in other states.

But the Northern Territory's Alcohol Policy Minister Delia Lawrie is planning something quite different.

DELIA LAWRIE: The biggest thing we're going to do, the thing that hasn't been tried anywhere in Australia or indeed the world is automatic banning on the problem drinker.

What the health lobby is saying to me is that that, that is going to be the most crucial change that hasn't occurred because no-one's legislated in that way in the past.

KATRINA BOLTON: Delia Lawrie says problem drinkers who breach the bans could be forced into rehabilitation.

DELIA LAWRIE: We also want to bring in a tribunal where people who've got serious drinking problems can be referred to the tribunal, clinically assessed, mandating treatment.

(Extract from government campaign ad):

MALE VOICEOVER: Enough is enough. Alcohol abuse causes crime. That's why the Territory Government is taking tough action to turn off the tap for...

KATRINA BOLTON: While the Territory Government rolls out an advertising campaign about the new measures the conservative Country Liberal Opposition is also drawing up its own policy, one that relies almost exclusively on the rehabilitation of problem drunks.

The party's alcohol spokesman Peter Styles says his party would allow Alice Springs' takeaway bottle shops to open earlier, at 10am instead of 2pm.

The rationale is that people who want to drink are going to. They may as well get drunk early so the violence starts before dark.

PETER STYLES: When five o'clock comes police officers are dealing with other issues. There's statements to be taken. There's meal breaks that police officers have to have.

KATRINA BOLTON: Peter Styles used to be a policeman and he says officers hate hearing screams and not being able to see what's happening.

PETER STYLES: Now I've had police officers tell me that at night time they can hear women wailing in the Todd but they can't find them because once they go looking for them there are people there who are obviously perpetrating the violence who then threaten if they open their mouth they will suffer.

So everything goes quiet for a while and the police officers don't find them. So when the police officers leave the violence starts again.

Then what happens is we find someone's got to go to a telephone box, call an ambulance and then we go through those entire health issues because police officers can't look down the Todd in the day time for 300 or 400 metres and say there's a problem, let's go and fix it.

KATRINA BOLTON: The prospect of increased takeaway hours and the reliance of both parties on rehabilitating individual drinkers concerns Blair McFarland who's worked for years to stop petrol sniffing in Central Australia.

He says that experience shows that even with intensive rehabilitation people rarely stop unless the environment around them changes.

BLAIR MCFARLAND: They'd seem to be on top of their habits and they'd talk the right way and want to stop sniffing. But as soon as they went back to the environment that was full of sniffable substances they'd inevitably relapse.

It was only once the supply reduction side kicked in that rehab made any sense at all.

KATRINA BOLTON: He says alcohol rehabilitation is a very blunt tool to rely on given the rate that people are dying.

BLAIR MCFARLAND: Ninety-five per cent of people don't stop once they've gone to rehab. On their first entrance to rehab they've got a 95 per cent chance of relapsing. You know it takes multiple, multiple, multiple goes to go into rehab.

You multiply that factor like three months rehab times four or five, times the number of people in Alice Springs who have got drinking problems and you factor into that population growth and basically you're looking at a sort of perpetual motion machine.

KATRINA BOLTON: Alice Springs GP Dr John Boffa also doubts whether individual drunks can be expected to change if the hours of alcohol availability don't.

JOHN BOFFA: There are changes occurring in the brains of people who are dependent on alcohol. And new neural circuits open up in the brain which means the impulse that these people have to drink is incredibly powerful and very difficult to resist once those changes have taken place. It is very difficult to walk past an alcohol outlet and not have a drink.

KATRINA BOLTON: But politicians are acutely aware that in some parts of Alice Springs the idea of restricting alcohol availability or opening hours doesn't go down too well.

VOX POP 1: Yeah the price of beer will go up and then you know we come in and we have to spend more money on grog. And like yeah, why should we get disadvantaged because some people don't know how to drink?

VOX POP 2: I think they're punishing us very badly just to try and sort out the alcohol problem with the Indigenous species. But the people that haven't really got a problem are the ones that are suffering and I think it's wrong.

KATRINA BOLTON: It's not just Indigenous Territorians who drink too much. Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia found non-Indigenous Territorians are twice as likely as other Australians to die of alcohol-related causes.

But the liquor industry is an important player. Pubs and clubs were among the largest donors to the Territory Government before the last election.

And the hotels association president Mick Burns doesn't think pub opening hours should change.

MICK BURNS: Fundamentally we're after any initiatives and we're supportive of any initiatives that we see as specifically targeting the problem.

KATRINA BOLTON: He thinks measures that affect all drinkers would be unfair.

MICK BURNS: The problem is all the unintended consequences. You know like if we want to make Alice Springs a less attractive place to live, a less attractive place to visit, a less attractive place to work, we're going down the right path.

Rivers of grog flow on in Alice Springs

Katrina Bolton reported this story on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 12:30:00

KATRINA BOLTON: The Government is in the process of buying back three of Alice Springs' 32 takeaway alcohol licences although the Todd Tavern and the Gap View Hotel are not being touched.

The Government has also decided to review the way the town's bars operate and it's considering requiring them to only sell light beer before two unless it's with a meal.

The Minister Delia Lawrie says decisions should be made by February.

DELIA LAWRIE: That's something that's in front of the Licensing Commission. You know it's on the table with all the other matters that have been put into the mix in terms of that hearing. And I don't want to pre-empt the outcome of the commission's work.

KATRINA BOLTON: Back at the town's Lutheran Church, Alice Springs Pastor Basil Schild and grandmother Christobel Swan hope any changes will be meaningful.

They say they don't want to bury so many people.

BASIL SCHILD: This town has an alcohol nightmare happening and Government and leaders, captains of industry have to have both the compassion and the courage now to throw everything at this.

Now is the time. We cannot wait any more for this. We may as well sit down in front of the church yard and build coffins.

CHRISTOBEL SWAN: I hope with all my heart this grog thing changes. We have lost so many of our family, young and old. Please listen to us when we ask for this like morning time you know to keep the pubs shut.

KATRINA BOLTON: Until decisions are made there's every sign Alice Springs' river of grog will keep on flowing.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Katrina Bolton with that report.

You've been listening to a current affairs special.


Some of the following comments have been redirected to DRINKSTER from a discussion of this article on FaceBook.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the problem: we have a thing in this town which half the population abuse, which often causes them death and causes the deaths of others. But the thing is legal and the basic premise of our society is that we all know abusing this thing is hazardous, but adults are supposed to be responsable for themselves.

How do you fix it? Remove access from the entire town, responsable and irresponsable alike, treating everyone like naught children? Or say that this specific special subset is incapable of behaving like an adult and remove from them and only them their legal rights as adults?

If you do this first thing you will effectively kill the town. People will just leave. If you do this second thing you still risk killing the town, in a far more violent fashion, as you tell this subset "no, sorry, you're not really ready to be equal with us legally." If you do nothing - well. The town is sick with this behavior. Does it eventually die? Nobody knows.

The owners of these business face a dilemma as well: their own survival. It's not enough for them to change their trading hours, deny drinks, change their behavior in one fell swoop. If they do this they not only risk loosing their livelihood but they risk inciting violence against themselves. They already live risky lives, dealing every day with violent drunks. To close these bars, to begin changing things suddenly, they might have to leave town completely to avoid payback. Alcohol addicts do not think they need your help and interference and are likely to become violent when their drug of choice is removed. The providers are in a catch-22.

Is removing the thing in question the real solution either? Or is it somehow reaching these people who are abusing this thing? They already live under different laws than the rest of the town. Special laws designed just for them. How does it make you feel, to live under a different standard from the rest of the community ?

But how do you literally change someone's mind, even when it's for the better?

you'd never understand said...

white by name white by naturq

jean-pierre d-b said...

I agree with your thesis in an earlier post: as with other drugs, the manufacturers, traffickers and peddlers should be the ones expected to pay for this destruction. If they were sent an invoice to sort this, they would HAVE to reconsider their mode of practice, non?

owner said...

So you bastard you can go and drink gin and tonic on the island the Baumbers took off us and write it like a white joke.

phil said...

We have to work together towards eliminating whitefella paternalism and blakfella organisations that perpetuate the problem...people who are paid inordinate salaries while their people continue to exist in 4th world conditions. Bit like why is the catholic church the wealthiest organisation on the planet yet people around it continue to live in poverty??? It's all about corruption...from the grog runners...to the churches... to the parliaments.

Trevor said...

Rehabs are expensive and do not offer a long term solution. The other problem is real Alcoholism as opposed to heavy drinking. Heavy drinkers can stop or moderate. Real Alkies will find a way to get booze under all circumstances. Changing pub hours on the Todd and regulating who gets served in the bottle shops will probably help in areas of alcohol fuelled violence, but removing grog from an alcoholic will not solve their problem. A real effort must be made to help solve the addiction not by closing the pubs or their bottleshop businesses. Moderating them yes.

Phil said...

Prohibition does not work...just look at NYC during the 1920's...we ended up with gansters and mobs...the more you try to restirict supply; the more 'frantic' people will be to get it. It's about personal choice...people have to choose not to drink or limit their intake...you can't legislate morality!!!

peter said...

It's done every day, moral legislation that is. What do you think the NT Intervention is? For me the question is what is the model of personal and social empowerment to be used to address the imbalance?

phil said...

That's what I mean (the NTER)...people reject it because it's imposed not chosen...the 'model' of personal and social empowerment lies within each individual...likewsie it has to be chosen not imposed...

Susan said...

Hogarth did a painting of a woman sitting on steps beside a river. Her head was tipped back, taking a slug from a bottle. Held by one leg a baby dangles, almost touching the water. In 1700 the annual consumption of Gin was in England was estimated at 500,000 GALLONS. 35 years later it was 11 MILLION GALLONS, 2 million gallons more than in 1981.Gin was cheap and while beer and cider could only be sold from licensed premises, gin could be sold anywhere in England. The industrial revolution displaced people and destroyed their craft based society. In Scotland people were moved off land where they had lived for centuries to make way for sheep. If they didn't leave the house was burned with them inside. I guess what i'm trying to say is alcohol only serves to deaden the inner pain but does not fix the pain or the source of it. Also, it doesn't matter what race you are when invasion of country or community happens and people can't protect their community, environment or income....We need to stand united to protect our environment and our communities.

Trevor said...

Re: "It's about personal choice...people have to choose not to drink or limit their intake...you can't legislate morality!!!" - Phil, real alkies have lost the power of choice. Alcoholism is an illness not a moral issue.

Phil said...

I agree Trevor...that's why if people can be encouraged to undertake some rehab. programs, they regain the power to choose...because they regain the power within...

Trevor said...

People cant be encouraged to change they need to be desperate this is what many do not understand. To do a 180 degree turn to recover from alcoholism or drug addiction is not an easy thing and it only works for the willing. It has to begin with a surrender of "Ok I have lost the war" but then folks need to be given a plan of action in order to stay stopped for good. Sadly most rehabs are places for recidivists and that's how they stay in business.

Kathleen said...

The original owners of this land ain't the only ones with an alcoholism problem. Just go to King Street on a Saturday Night.

Taking this moral high ground is how the intervention has been justified and doing exactly what Gerry Gambill's point 3. says:
"Make them believe that things are being done for their own good."

Trevor said...

Alcoholism is colour blind ... Solving other folks problems cant be done, they need help from a network locally and have to want to change. This is not a moral issue it is an illness as I stated earlier. All I am saying is that the current model ain't working based on the info on your blog. As for human rights well an overhall is needed and that is sadly a big task but I do not think it is winnable either. New Zealand seems to have a better deal for their original folks that's for sure. But I do not have an answer for that and Susan has made some great suggestions. For me to say I understand would be a lie. How could I ever know how it feels to be a blackfella.

Phil said...

That's right...people have to solve their own. I agree with you and Susan...we have to operate 'outside the circle' and whilever we each believe we can contribute to a series of solutions, that will be where the focus goes...and I like you, have no idea what it's like to be anyone else but me...

Trevor said...

Most folks do not get to know themselves lol Many sleepwalk while awake.