30 November 2020
VACCA strongly supports law reform on public drunkenness offences. Alcohol use and its misuse is a serious health and social issue requiring immediate action. It should not be a criminal offence.
VACCA CEO Muriel Bamblett said, “Virtue signalling doesn’t prevent Aboriginal deaths in custody. Action does. After 30 years of continued unnecessary and preventable deaths of Aboriginal people in custody, the Law reform proposed by the State Government is long overdue.”
She continued, “If removing offences for public drunkenness reduces our community’s interaction with and overrepresentation in the justice system, it is the right thing to do. It doesn’t help when parts of the justice system don’t see we all have a role to play in bringing about change.”
A new approach to prevent and minimise the occurrence of public drunkenness is needed, one that focusses on healing and the underlying causes. She added, “It is in the public interest to support Aboriginal people with alcohol use issues to access timely and culturally appropriate health and social supports.”
Aboriginal specific Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) services in Victoria are limited. We estimate that only 50% of Aboriginal people who need AOD Services can access them. “Urgent government investment in Aboriginal led AOD services is needed to underpin this life saving area of law reform.”
She concluded, “When Government invests in Aboriginal communities and organisations to be empowered, make decisions and lead service delivery for their own communities, better outcomes for Aboriginal children, young people, families, women and men are achieved.”