By Ian Neubauer
The mayor of Katherine has called for the rolling back of prohibition in indigenous communities, saying it has exacerbated alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour in her town.
Katherine Mayor Anne Shepherd said the controversial ban that was implemented with much fanfare last year as part of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response to tackle child sexual abuse has driven many people from outlying districts into Katherine to drink.
“I supported the intervention but it has exacerbated the situation and brought more people into town who are misbehaving,” she said. “There has been an increase in vandalism. People are camping illegally and drinking illegally when there is not supposed to be any drinking.”
In January, Katherine was declared a ‘dry zone’ where drinking is banned in all public places, with exemption granted to licensed premises, private property and the Katherine Low Level Nature Reserve.
“I think we have to have a firm hand in Katherine. I think these people have to go back to their communities. They are causing havoc and we can’t tolerate it any longer,” Cr Shepherd said, adding that alcohol should be allowed in bush communities so long as it is managed in consultation with elders.
Her comments coincide with a Uniting Church forum at Darwin University tomorrow (September 30) to address concerns that the intervention is doing more harm than good.
Tuesday will also see the scheduled delivery of an in-depth review on the intervention by a handpicked panel to Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin.
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