Council to choose alcohol limits
AS INDIGENOUS council representatives met with the State Government yesterday to discuss alcohol restrictions within aboriginal communities, Poy Pensio, of Bidgerdii Community Health Service, has urged the government not to relax alcohol restrictions in dry communities.
The forum was held in Cairns and invited the mayors of 19 indigenous communities to review the alcohol management plan for their communities with Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands and Multicultural Affairs, Glen Elmes.
It was decided during the forum that councils would be given the choice to lift alcohol restrictions in their communities rather than being subjected to statewide imposed bans.
Minister Elmes said local councils would facilitate and lead the preparation of community proposals to manage alcohol-related issues as an alternative to the discriminatory Alcohol Management Plans.
Poy Pensio, a Rockhampton indigenous leader and former Torres Strait Island man, spoke openly about the negative effects that alcohol had within indigenous communities and said he hoped the government considered all the factors of the issue before making the decision.
"I have seen first-hand the effects of alcohol in these communities and it's horrifying. People who were once active and took pride in themselves give up on everything because all they care about is getting drunk," he said.
Mr Pensio said while there was still the issue of "sly grog", which continued to make its way to dry communities, less alcohol being made available in these areas would give the community a better chance of repairing itself.
"But the problem goes far beyond just limiting alcohol. There needs to be a fully comprehensive education program that explains to these people exactly what the alcohol is doing and what the problems are, because they simply do not understand a lot of things associated with alcohol use," he said. The Morning Bulletin tried to contact Woorabinda Mayor Terrence Munns for comment on this issue, but he was unavailable due to commitments at the forum.