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Gove Peninsula alcohol reduction trial extended by 12 months

Dechlan Brennan -

An alcohol reduction program being managed by the Gove Peninsula community is being extended for 12 more months after a successful six-month trial.

The peninsula, situated in the north-eastern corner of Arnhem Land, saw the trial introduced in October last year in an effort to help reduce rising rates of alcohol-related crime and domestic and family violence, as well as secondary supply.

The trial sets daily limits on the amounts of takeaway alcohol purchases by permit holders, which varies by tier and location within the Peninsula.

The Northern Territory government has extended the trial after preliminary data indicated it was having a positive impact on the community. There has been a reduction in alcohol related assaults across the Peninsula as well as a reduction in the number of presentations to the Gove District Hospital for alcohol related issues.

The Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation represents the Rirratjingu people, the Traditional Owners of the Gove Peninsula. Rirratjingu leader Mandaka Marika said the corporation supported the NT government's decision.

"Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation supports extending the trial for a further 12 months, and setting a maximum take-away limit to reduce secondary supply of alcohol," he said.

Gumatj leader Djawa Yunupingu said they were "supportive" of the permit system being extended, arguing, "we have seen the damages alcohol causes too often".

"We are taking actions to build a better future for this region, and we hope all community members understand the role they have to play in this challenging enterprise," Mr Yunupingu said.

A review in 2021 by the Gove Peninsula Harmony Group found while there were improvements needed for the previous permit system, there was no great desire to abandon it. Instead, data showed secondary supply was a key problem.

"There was support for the current measures to be maintained or enhanced." the review said. "Unrestricted permits were regarded as the prime source of secondary supplies."

Chair of the Gove Peninsula Harmony Group, Shane Whitten, said: "On behalf of the Harmony Group members, I thank residents and businesses for their continued support of the Trial as we collectively work to support strong safe and healthy communities across the Peninsula."

The NT government said the extension of the trial will allow harm reduction strategies to stay in place as well as enabling further data to be collected to "determine the effectiveness of this trial and if it can be broadened to other communities".

Alcohol Policy Minister Brent Potter said the curbing of alcohol related harm was "essential" for building a better future for communities, and noted the government was "optimistic" the results from the trial would be replicated in data collected over the next 12 months.

The Territory government has encouraged all residents of the Gove Peninsula to have their day on the trial extension and permit system. The survey can be found online.

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