Shut pubs improve safety
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.