The Australian government Wednesday announced plans to curb violence in the Northern Territory town of Alice Springs with alcohol bans and a $48.8 million support package.
Alice Springs crimes rates show a 55 percent increase in alcohol related assault, a 54 percent increase in domestic violence, over a 55 percent increase in commercial break-ins and property damage and a 43 percent increase in assault from 2021 to 2022. Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles called alcohol-related crime “one of the Northern Territory’s biggest social challenges.” Temporary bans will permit only one alcohol sale per day, per person at all liquor outlets, alcohol free days at takeaway outlets and restricted selling times.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the ban is part of a $48.8 million investment over two years in Alice Springs to “tackle crime, keep women and children safe and provide support to young people in communities.”
The emergency support investment includes:
- $14.2 million in additional police funding;
- $2 million to improve CCTV, lighting and safety measures;
- $5.6 million for additional emergency accommodation and safe spaces;
- $2 million for the Tangentyre Women’s Council to boost domestic violence services; and
- $25 million to extend funding for safety and community services, currently scheduled to end in June 2023.
The emergency measures, which mirror Northern Territory intervention-era legislation in remote Indigenous communities, have been met with mixed responses from Indigenous leaders, who say long term neglect has resulted in the loss of safety and living standards. The Alice Springs Arrernte traditional owners told the ABC that they are harmed by both the stereotyping of Aboriginal people and the violence in their community. According to the Australian government, 26.3 percent of the Northern Territory’s population identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, a much higher percentage than any other territory.