Out of sight, out of mind? Licensed clubs in remote aboriginal communities

Aust N Z J Public Health. 1998 Oct;22(6):679-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.1998.tb01469.x.

Abstract

Most Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory have used provisions under the NT Liquor Act to impose total or partial bans on alcohol and only eight (as of 30 June 1995) had established licensed clubs. This article examines (a) patterns of alcohol consumption in communities with clubs, and (b) economic, social and political aspects of the place of clubs in these communities. Alcohol consumption was estimated on the basis of 'purchase into store' figures for 1994-95 provided by the NT Liquor Commission. Among male drinkers, consumption of absolute alcohol in 1994-95 was estimated at 42.5 litres a head, 76% higher than the figure for the NT as a whole, which in turn was 42% above the national level. Similar differences were found for female drinkers. Combined retail turnover of the seven clubs that traded throughout the year was estimated at $8.1 million. It is argued that many clubs are able to use their monopolistic control of a valued resource to become powerful political institutions in communities, sometimes leaving non-drinkers effectively disenfranchised. It is also argued that the health consequences of these high consumption levels have received far less attention than the effects of Aboriginal public drunkenness in urban areas. It is concluded that, while the rights of Aboriginal communities to establish community-controlled clubs should be respected, the notion that they are under some sort of obligation to do so should be exposed as a measure likely to add to the health burdens of people already inadequately served by health, education and other services.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Alcoholism / ethnology*
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Community Participation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Licensure / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / statistics & numerical data*
  • Northern Territory / epidemiology
  • Politics
  • Recreation*
  • Rural Health
  • Socioeconomic Factors