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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 20530

Indigenous Alcohol Education Announcement Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/03/2003

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 20530

Thank you very much, Trish. Could I first acknowledge the traditional owners of the land of which we meet, the Gaurna people, and thank you for that very gracious welcome to your land. Can I acknowledge the presence also of Major Brian Watters, Professor Ian Webster and my several parliamentary colleagues both the federal and state, particularly Trish Worth who's the local member. And Chris Gallus and Trish Draper and Grant Chapman and several of my state colleagues.

I'm come here today to announce a contribution of $40 000 from the Federal Government as part of a partnership with others who are contributing towards a very important cause, and that is to better educate indigenous people about the dangers of abuse of alcohol. Abuse of alcohol is a problem in the entire Australian community, it's not just a problem in the indigenous community, it's a problem for a lot of Australians. But it does have particular challenges and particular difficulties in the indigenous community.

One of the interesting statistics, and we always have statistics whenever we have launches of this kind, one of the interesting statistics is that the level of alcohol or the incidents, that's a better way of describing it, of alcohol consumption in the indigenous community is actually lower than what it is in the general community. In other words there are, to use some of the old language, there are more tee-totallers in the aboriginal community than there are in the general community. Now, that's the good news, but the not so good news is that the incidents of too much drinking appears greater in the indigenous, well is greater in the indigenous community, there's no point in mincing words about it than in the broader community and that is the issue that all of us have to try and address.

And the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation, which has been funded as a result of an agreement that was reached between the Government and the Australian Democrats in connection with the taxation legislation, is giving consideration at present to the allocation of quite a lot of money to a number of projects around Australia, including projects which are designed to address the problem of alcohol abuse in indigenous communities. And what the Government is doing today with its contribution is to form a partnership with other organisations which are particularly designed, and your own organisation here in South Australia particularly designed, to assist in educating people in the indigenous communities about the terrible consequences that flow in personal terms, in community terms, in family terms, from the abuse of alcohol. Many people in our community have stories to tell about the abuse of alcohol and my colleague, Trish Worth, some little while ago released some materials which were designed to begin to get people to understand it. And today's announcement - and I believe also the further support that will be coming in this area from the foundation - will, I believe, make a contribution towards a better understanding of the problem.

I think we have to all recognise that when communities whether they're indigenous or other communities of Australians suffer the consequences of alcohol abuse, the whole sense of self- respect and the whole sense of mutual support and comfort one to the other, which is so important to sustain a community, breaks down. And I don't think there is any greater challenge for many indigenous communities around Australia than the problem of alcohol abuse. And it's a tragic thing, it destroys people's self-respect, it destroys their hope, it leads to physical abuse of friends and family members and the most appalling social consequences. And we all have to recognise it, we have to be honest about it, we have to recognise that there's a... it's a challenge for all Australians. But I'm here, particularly to say that we want to assist in relation to indigenous communities and I hope today's announcement to your organisation will make some difference.

And I want to acknowledge the presence of Professor Webster who has done with his group so much to fight the problem of abuse of substances both licit and illicit. Today the focus is on alcohol. Alcohol we all recognise in moderation is something to be enjoyed, some people unfortunately can't consume it in moderation. And our goal today is to try and help those people and in doing that, make them happier and make the people around them happier and make their communities better and more constructive.

And can I take the opportunity of applauding the leadership being displayed in the indigenous communities in Australia by people such as Noel Pearson, who is honestly and courageously and more eloquently than any non-indigenous Australian could do speaking out about the terrible consequences that flow from the abuse of alcohol. And it's a plea I know that would be echoed in non-indigenous communities and homes where alcohol is a curse because it's abused. And anything that we can do today to address that problem and anything we can do through your wonderful organisation and with the assistance and the support of the Gaurna people, I think will be striking a real blow for a better life for indigenous people which is something together all of us dearly want.

So, I'm delighted to be here. I thank you for the very warm welcome. Again, I thank my colleagues for the support that they've provided. And I particularly again take the opportunity of thanking my good friend, Brian Watters, and Professor Webster for the tremendous leadership, but in different ways both of them are giving to the Australian community in the campaign to rid our society of the abuse of alcohol and the never-ending campaign against the terrible consequences of the use of illicit drugs in our community. Thank you.


Transcript 20530