The Abbott government has confirmed it will go ahead with an inquiry into alcohol use in Indigenous communities.
Brooke Boney

17 Feb 2014 - 4:59 PM  UPDATED 17 Feb 2014 - 6:39 PM

Despite originally being heralded as an inquiry into alcohol related violence after the death of a Sydney teenager from a king-hit punch, a government review has been narrowed to look at alcohol use in Indigenous communities. 

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said it was a matter of urgency.

"This is about poverty not ethnicity," Minister Scullion said. "But I acknowledge there are - have always been - and we haven't really seen a break - particularly with reports of domestic violence, defence injuries, alcohol deaths or alcohol through cars and violence."

Despite the narrowing of the focus to Indigenous communities, some groups are relieved. 

Dr John Boffa of the People's Alcohol Action Coalition reform group in the Northern Territory, said they have been calling on the government for a review since the banned drinkers register was abolished.   

"This is a very useful inquiry. Alcohol problems are obviously very prevalent in Aboriginal communities.

"But I think if the inquiry is done well, it's got the potential to provide some solutions that will address alcohol misuse not just amongst Aboriginal people but amongst the broader populations as well."

Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister Shayne Neumann said it's an issue that needs to be investigated. 

The committee will investigate:

  • Patterns of supply and demand for alcohol in different communities, age groups and genders.
  • The social and economic determinants of harmful use.
  • Trends of alcohol-fuelled violence and;
  • how it impacts unborn and new-born babies.

They will also look at best practice in other countries for treatment and support in minimising alcohol misuse and alcohol-related harm.