Shut pubs im­prove safety

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS -

THE num­ber of peo­ple drunk­enly in­jur­ing them­selves or oth­ers has plunged by more than half in some parts of the Ter­ri­tory since the forced clo­sure of li­censed venues on March 23.

Health Depart­ment data ob­tained by the Sun­day Ter­ri­to­rian re­vealed al­co­hol-re­lated emer­gency depart­ment pre­sen­ta­tions at Gove Dis­trict Hospi­tal were down 57 per cent in April, com­pared with the same time last year.

In Kather­ine the fall was 50 per cent, while ED pre­sen­ta­tions were down by 17 per cent through­out the NT.

The de­cline was more mod­est in Dar­win, Alice Springs and Ten­nant Creek but hos­pi­tals in each still recorded falls of more than 10 per cent.

A Health Depart­ment spokesman said the fig­ures re­flected “sig­nif­i­cant de­creases in al­co­hol-re­lated pre­sen­ta­tions at our EDs” since the pub doors closed.

“It is rea­son­able to as­sume this has oc­curred with on­go­ing al­co­hol re­forms plus the lack of ac­cess to pubs and clubs due to COVID-19 safety re­stric­tions,” he said.

As­so­ci­a­tion of Al­co­hol and other Drug Agen­cies NT ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Peter Burn­heim said the data sug­gested “fewer peo­ple are be­ing im­pacted by al­co­hol-fu­elled harm due to the re­stric­tion of move­ment and so­cial ac­tiv­ity.

“These find­ings – in con­junc­tion with the over­all re­duc­tion in harms we have seen as a re­sult of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the (Govern­ment’s) al­co­hol re­form mea­sures – demon­strate that the pop­u­lace of the NT don’t need to ac­cept the pre­vi­ous lev­els of harm re­lated to al­co­hol his­tor­i­cally seen,” he said.

“Our mem­bers are front­line health ser­vice providers and we urge the NT Govern­ment to con­tinue to fo­cus on and de­velop pol­icy to en­sure that these gains on re­duc­ing in­jury and harm are not lost.”

Mr Burn­heim said the cri­sis rep­re­sented an “op­por­tu­nity and a plat­form to make fur­ther progress on ad­dress­ing the Ter­ri­tory’s en­demic is­sues around al­co­hol”.

But Mr Burn­heim stopped short of call­ing for the NT’s 3am lockout laws to be brought for­ward to an ear­lier cut-off time post-pan­demic.

“Im­ple­men­ta­tion or changes to such laws must be care­fully con­sid­ered,” he said.

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