13.1     Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are less likely to drink alcohol than non-Indigenous people, but those who do drink, are more likely to drink at harmful levels.[1] This chapter concerns the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the links between alcohol, offending and incarceration.

13.2     While liquor licensing laws fall within state and territory jurisdictions, the Terms of Reference ask the ALRC to have regard to laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ offending including, for example, laws that regulate the availability of alcohol.

13.3     The chapter outlines a range of responses that have been adopted to address alcohol-related offending, including liquor accords, restrictions on the sale of alcohol, banned drinkers registers and mandatory treatment programs.

13.4     The ALRC makes two recommendations. Firstly, that all initiatives to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities should be developed with, and led by, these communities to meet their particular needs. Secondly, that Commonwealth, state and territory governments should enable and provide support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, that wish to address alcohol misuse, to develop and implement local liquor accords; and/or develop plans to prevent the sale of full strength alcohol or reduce the availability of particular alcohol ranges or products within their communities.

13.5     Other substance abuse issues may also contribute to incarceration, including the use and availability of illicit and non-illicit drugs, and the use of inhalants. However, these substances are not included in the Terms of Reference and have therefore not been the subject of inquiry.

13.6     During the consultation process, the ALRC was made aware of other issues linked to the consumption of alcohol, for example the introduction of Cashless Debit Cards in communities and volumetric taxation of alcohol. The ALRC considers that both these issues fall outside of the scope of the Terms of Reference for this Inquiry.