Australia to ban Aborgines from certain alcoholic beverages
Aborgines suffer higher rates of unemployment, substance abuse and domestic violence, and have a life expectancy 17 years shorter than other Australians.
Aborigines in Western Australia state will be banned from buying certain alcoholic beverages, including wine casks and many beers, in a bid to tackle growing lawlessness, alcohol and sexual abuse in indigenous towns.
Covering the rugged northern Kimberley region, including the tourist haven of Broome, the ban will affect takeaway beer in large bottles known as "King Browns", named after a deadly snake, as well as two-litre wine casks and boxes of full-strength beer.
Full-strength beer generally has an alcohol content around five percent or more.
Bans would apply "north of the 20th parallel" and were necessary to curb alcohol-related problems plaguing the region, state liquor licensing director Barry Sargeant told the Australian newspaper.
"I believe that any negative impacts and inconveniences that may be experienced do not outweigh the possible social and health benefits these restrictions may bring to the broader community," Sargeant said.
Australia's 460,000 Aborigines make up about 2 percent of the population. They suffer higher rates of unemployment, substance abuse and domestic violence, and have a life expectancy 17 years shorter than other Australians.
The former conservative government sent police and soldiers into 73 outback towns and settlements in June 2007 to stamp out widespread child sex abuse, fuelled by chronic alcoholism from "rivers of grog" in indigenous communities.
The government also took control of indigenous welfare payments in the Northern Territory to ensure parents spent money on essential food and clothing, rather than alcohol and gambling.
The Western Australia ban extends the curbs on alcohol availability across the remote desert border with the Northern Territory. In the east, Queensland state restricted cask wine, full-strength beer and pre-mixed spirits in some communities earlier this month.
Aboriginal protesters will march on parliament in Canberra in early February to demand an end to welfare management, with critics calling the policy "racist and onerous".
An independent review of the 2007 intervention, set up by the centre-left Labor government after it won power that year, found widespread problems with the programme and a strong sense of injustice among aboriginal people.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made indigenous affairs a priority of his government, winning praise for apologising in parliament for historic injustices against Aborigines.
He has also promised to continue the controversial intervention, but review the way it operates.
Reuters Last Mod: 16 Ocak 2009, 12:45