CDP-2012-39-3-03-D'Abbs, Problematizing alcohol through the eyes of the other: Alcohol policy and Aboriginal drinking in the Northern Territory, Australia

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By PETER D’ABBS

This article traces the evolution of alcohol policy in the Northern
Territory, Australia, over the past half century, from the removal of
prohibition on the possession and consumption of alcohol by
Aboriginal people, to the emergence of spatially-defined
restrictions which, while not overtly referring to Aborigines, are
designed primarily to contain consumption in public by Aboriginal
drinkers. Aboriginal alcohol-related problems, which are serious
and broad-ranging, continue to be defined for policy purposes
primarily by non-Aboriginal people in terms of public drunkenness
and perceived threats to urban amenity. Meanwhile, a non-
Aboriginal, heavy-drinking culture is positively sanctioned
discursively through the social construction of “the Territorian.”
The article argues that discourse and policies combine to
perpetuate Aboriginal marginality with respect to urban spaces,

Season: 
2012
Volume: 
39
Number: 
3
Keywords: 
Alcohol policy, drinking, Aboriginal, civil society and boundaries, urban space, Australia

PETER D’ABBS is Professor of Substance Misuse Studies at the Menzies School of
Health Research, Darwin, Australia.