Calls for end to NT alcohol ‘talkfests’

THE issue of problem drinking in Katherine is never far from the public discourse and one community member is fed up with inaction.

TIME FOR ACTION: Toni Tapp Couts is calling for an end to community complacency.

TIME FOR ACTION: Toni Tapp Couts is calling for an end to community complacency.

The Katherine Region Action Group is currently reviewing the Katherine Liquor Supply Plan as one of the tasks in the Katherine Alcohol Management Plan. 

In her submission shared with the Katherine Times, Toni Tapp-Coutts said it was time for the Katherine Town Council, the Northern Territory government and the community to be as proactive about alcohol management as they were about the cost of petrol.

She also slammed the Katherine Alcohol Management Plan as “a weak document”. 

“There’s no real plan in there,” she said. “There are no steps on how or who is going to take responsibility for trying to change the drinking culture.

“That’s why I’m saying they need to bring in an alcohol levy, where the funds go directly into alcohol remediation strategies, targeted at alcohol councillors and accommodation, not just putting people into rehab and then throwing them back out onto the street.”

Katherine Country Club manager and Katherine Liquor Accord spokesman Frank Dalton said if there was an easy way to solve the problem, it would have been done already, adding that there was no “silver bullet”.

“There’s been countless attempts; the hours, the expertise, the doctors, the ex-chief ministers, the professors who have all been involved over the years - we all have to keep trying,” he said.

“I plead with people who perhaps haven’t contributed previously to please do so. 

“We can’t give up.

“We have to keep chipping away and trying to help the community with the problem.”

Katherine-based police Commander Bruce Porter, who has responsibility for the Katherine, Arafura and Arnhem and Western Divisions, said all officers could do was to continue to target alcohol-related offences and do their best to uphold social order. 

Operation Marcos, a police operation which began on March 27 and targets alcohol-related offences and antisocial behaviour, has already seized 8850 litres of alcohol and taken 2000 people into protective custody.

Mrs Tapp-Coutts said she believed the community had become desensitised to the problem of blatant alcoholism on the streets of Katherine.

“If they were white people over in Ryan Park passed out, you’d jump out of your car and run over and ask if they’re alright,” she said.

“It’s heartbreaking. 

“But I tabled this [submission] at the council meeting and it’s not like anybody said, ‘I think that’s a good idea, Toni.’”

Submissions for the new Katherine Liquor Supply Plan are open until November 5.

Details on making a submission are available via the Katherine Times or at www.katherineamp.com

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