Alcohol regulation in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory has the highest rate of alcohol consumption per capita of any state or territory in Australia. Consequently, residents – including many Aboriginal residents – experience very high rates of alcohol-related harm.

The Northern Territory Government has introduced a large number of laws to deal with this issue. For the most part, those laws target consumers and criminalise behaviour such as drinking in public spaces or declared dry areas. To a lesser extent, those laws also target suppliers with the aim of reducing the availability of alcohol or certain types of product.

In addition to this, since 2007 the Australian Government has introduced its own set of laws to deal with alcohol-related harm in Aboriginal communities – initially as part of the ‘Northern Territory Emergency Response’ (or ‘Intervention’) and more recently as part of the ‘Stronger Futures’ package. The focus of those laws has been on the criminalisation of consumption in identified areas, particularly on Aboriginal land.

There exists a large body of research that considers the effectiveness of particular measures for the reduction of alcohol-related harm. One of the aims of this project is to produce a clearer framework for understanding the relationship between that research and existing and proposed laws. In addition to this, the project aims to clarify some of the legal issues that have the potential to interact with alcohol reform, such as discrimination, competition and taxation law. 

This project is being conducted in partnership with Associate Professor Sean Brennan, Director of the Indigenous Legal Issues Project at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law.

Stay Connected