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Alcohol restrictions in Indigenous communities: necessary but not sufficient

Peter H N d’Abbs
Med J Aust 2011; 194 (10): 507.

Supply-reduction measures play a vital role in combating the devastating toll of excessive alcohol consumption in Australian Indigenous communities.1 The study by Margolis and colleagues in this issue of the Journal shows an association between increasing alcohol restrictions and falling rates of serious injury in Aboriginal communities in Cape York, Queensland.2 As the authors acknowledge, their study does not address possible unintended consequences, such as substitution of other drugs (especially marijuana) or displacement of drinkers to places where alcohol is available. Nor does it examine the important issue of the degree of local support for the restrictions.

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  • Peter H N d’Abbs

  • Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, NT.


  • 1. Gray D, Saggers S, Sputore B, Bourbon D. What works? A review of evaluated alcohol misuse interventions among Aboriginal Australians. Addiction 2000; 95: 11-22.
  • 2. Margolis SA, Ypinazar VA, Muller R, Clough A. Increasing alcohol restrictions and rates of serious injury in four remote Australian Indigenous communities. Med J Aust 2011; 194: 503-506.
  • 3. Queensland Government Department of the Premier and Cabinet. Meeting challenges, making choices: the Queensland Government’s response to the Cape York Justice Study. Brisbane: Qld Government, 2002.
  • 4. Queensland Government. Cape York Justice Study report. 2001. Vol 1. Brisbane: Qld Government, 2001: 60.
  • 5. Marr D. Entering dangerous territory. Sydney Morning Herald 2007; 11 Aug. http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/entering-dangerous-territory/2007/08/10/1186530617633.html?page=fullpage (accessed Apr 2011).
  • 6. Sutton P. The politics of suffering: Indigenous Australia and the end of the liberal consensus. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2009.
  • 7. d’Abbs P, Ivory B, Senior K, et al. Managing alcohol in Tennant Creek, Northern Territory: an evaluation of the Tennant Creek Alcohol Management Plan and related measures to reduce alcohol-related problems. A report prepared for the NT Department of Justice. Darwin: Menzies School of Health Research, 2010.
  • 8. d’Abbs P, McMahon R, Cunningham T, Fitz J. An evaluation of the Katherine Alcohol Management Plan and Liquor Supply Plan. A report prepared for the Northern Territory Department of Justice. Darwin: Menzies School of Health Research, 2010.

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