The Australian and Northern Territory (NT) Government, in partnership with local communities, have outlined a number of action points aimed at tackling the “urgent challenges” facing Alice Springs.

The plans that have been outlined include a number of restrictions around the service of alcohol as well as other measures designed to improve community safety in Alice Springs.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, NT First Minister Natasha Fyles outlined the new restrictions.

She said: “We will now have takeaway alcohol-free days on Monday and Tuesday. We will also have alcohol reduced hours on the remaining days from 3:00 to 7:00 PM only for takeaway alcohol.

“We will also introduce one transaction per person each day, and we are able to do this immediately through the Banned Drinker Register (BDR).

“So I do ask the community to understand we do not take these decisions lightly, but these are measures to reduce the amount of alcohol in our community. It is a decision that police fully support, and by reducing that amount of alcohol, we will reduce the harm.

“These measures, coupled with the other restrictions and measures we have placed in the Northern Territory, along with an on-premise BDR blitz, will help reduce that alcohol in our community.

“We’ll put that in place for three months and whilst that’s in place, we will work on other measures as we have done continually since we came to government in 2016. And we will also work with the Commonwealth around a package, particularly to support kids and families.”

The NT and Australian Governments have also agreed to appoint a Central Australian Regional Controller, Dorrelle Anderson, to lead consultation with communities regarding the reintroduction of alcohol restrictions and an opt out system for individual communities. This consultation will conclude by February 1.

Fyles added: “I’m very pleased that Dorelle Anderson has agreed to take this position. Someone who has lived and worked in Central Australia for a number of years, someone who gets it.”

Speaking on Anderson’s appointment, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said: “Dorrelle is the right person for the job, someone who’s experienced and someone who’s very familiar with this local community, but someone who will have responsibility to make sure that we get Federal and State programs coordinated in the best possible way to make sure they’re not the most effective, but also they provide for the best use of taxpayers’ dollars to make a substantial difference.

“Dorrelle will oversee, as well, along with representatives of the Commonwealth and the Territory government, a process over the next short period, to report back on the first of February to myself and to the Chief Minister about the implementation of potential changes to alcohol restrictions in Central Australia, including potentially moving to an opt-out situation rather than opt-in that has applied. But to analyse and to consult with communities to make sure that we get the right outcome there, and it’s the one that brings community with us on that journey.”

Linda Burney, Minister for Indigenous Australians, said: “The measures that the Chief Minister has announced today, in terms of restricting the sale of takeaway alcohol, are incredibly important. We met with a number of people today, one of them specifically a women’s group, who raised the complexity of not only alcohol, but a whole range of issues that we’ll be looking at in terms of what needs to go forward here in Alice Springs.

“I think the important thing is that we are here. We are here because there has been a desire from the community for action, and we have responded to that. That’s what’s significant.”

The Federal Government also announced it will invest $48.8m over two years in Alice Springs to tackle crime, keep women and children safe and provide support to young people in communities.

These measures include:

  • $14.2m in additional funding for extra high visibility Police and law enforcement operations including targeting grog running, and increasing liquor licensing compliance inspectors and boosting security guards in public places.
  • A $2m investment to improve CCTV, lighting and safety measures throughout Alice Springs. 
  • $5.6m for additional emergency accommodation and safe spaces to give young people a place to go to at night and boost the effectiveness of the night patrol program which starts in February and will help get young people off the streets.
  • $2m for the Tangentyre Women’s Council to boost Domestic Violence services.
  • Providing $25m to extend funding for safety and community services which are currently scheduled to end in June 2023 to provide certainty to providers and their employees and ensure this work continues.

The Prime Minister said: “The issues here are complex. Today we had an opportunity to listen face to face, and I appreciate the opportunity and I certainly appreciate as well and acknowledge the work of the Northern Territory Government and my friend the Chief Minister for undertaking the tasks.”

Chief Minister Fyles added: “Central Australia is a very special place. The Prime Minister and myself as Chief Minister, we won’t give up. This team here won’t give up. There is tough work that needs to be done, but we are here listening to the community and working with them.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues at a federal level and the territory level to finalise the package of other supports and programs and we will continue to work here in Central Australia for a safer community.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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