New laws to benefit NT Aboriginal communities

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 23rd November 2011

The Australian Government has today announced changes to food store and alcohol licensing in the Northern Territory.

Under the changes, areas outside of major centres in the Northern Territory will be defined as a ‘food security area’.  Stores in these areas will need a license if they are an important source of food, drink or groceries to an Aboriginal community.

This means licensing will apply to some stores for the first time. The government will consult with the local community about the importance of the store before deciding whether to apply the licensing rules.

Stores will have access to the support they need to help them meet the requirements of stores licensing.  For example, community stores can receive financial support to improve storage, to make essential repairs, to install systems to help keep track of stock and sales and are provided with training in business operations.

The changes are part of the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory legislation being introduced to Parliament today. The Australian Government said it will invest A$40.9 million over ten years in the expanded licensing scheme.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin said, “Aboriginal people have told us that stores licensing has improved the quality and availability of fresh, healthy food, and is having a positive impact on their community.

“The Government wants to continue to improve the availability of fresh and healthy food in stores, as well as help stores to be sustainable, by building local capacity and improving governance.

Further action to tackle alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory

Under the same Stronger Futures legislation, the Australian Government today introduced measures to extend current alcohol restrictions, develop alcohol management plans and increase penalties for grog running in the Northern Territory.

The legislation will give the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister new power to request the Northern Territory Government appoint independent assessors to look into venues and assess the level of harm that is being caused to Aboriginal people through their serving practices.

The Australian and Northern Territory Governments have also agreed to initiate an independent review to determine the effectiveness of alcohol-regulation legislation in the Northern Territory. A report on this will be tabled in the federal Parliament within three years.