Early signs indicate the Territory Labor Governments comprehensive alcohol reforms are working, with significant reductions in crime and hospital admissions recorded in the last year across the NT.
In the one year since the NT released its response to the Riley Review, a progress update shows the Governments tough alcohol measures have led to:
A 44 per cent reduction in alcohol-related assaults in Alice Springs between September and December 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
A 24.5 per cent decrease in alcohol-related Emergency Department presentations in NT hospitals in December 2018 compared to December 2017.
More than 3,000 litres of pure alcohol marked for illegal secondary supply being seized by Police since the creation of the Alcohol Policing Unit.
A crackdown on licensees doing the wrong thing, with the Police Commissioner suspending five Liquor Licences since June 2018 protecting the community from the crime this causes.
The alcohol measures include additional frontline cops and police liquor inspectors, the introduction of the Banned Drinkers Register, an Independent Liquor Commission, a minimum floor price and tough new police powers to suspend liquor licenses and target secondary supply,
The report shows 75 of the 219 accepted recommendations in the Riley Review have been implemented, with work continuing on the rest.
Further, research conducted by the Menzies School of Health Research shows the social and economic cost of alcohol-related harm in the NT has increased from $642 million in 2009 to $1.38 billion per year.
Territorians can access both reports as well as view data on the five key indicators of alcohol harm minimisation at alcoholreform.nt.gov.au
While these results are promising and show the Territory Governments alcohol policies are working, there is still more to do to cut crime and cut the cost of alcohol abuse on the budget.
As noted by Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles:
Alcohol abuse creates crime, destroys families and costs Territorians millions of dollars every year. Thats why we have a comprehensive plan to tackle it.
Alcohol-related crime is falling and alcohol-related hospital admissions have reduced significantly which is evidence to show our plan is working.
The significant and hard won progress in these areas would be put at risk by a return to the failed CLP approach of failing to invest in police, scrapping the BDR and the floor price, and giving a free pass to licensees who do the wrong thing by the community.
As noted by Professor James Smith, Menzies School of Health:
This research unpacks the harmful costs of alcohol felt within and beyond the health sector. It is clear a well-co-ordinated, cross-sectoral public health response is required to address the links between health, crime, road trauma, violence and child protection issues associated with alcohol.
In tandem with a strong alcohol policy platform, targeted health promotion and prevention efforts will be the most cost effective way to curb the costs and harms of alcohol among people at greatest risk.