Research Papers

Alcohol restrictions and drink driving in remote Indigenous communities in Queensland, Australia

Filename 44.pdf
Filesize 141 KB
Version 1
Date added May 26, 2013
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Category 2013 CMRSC XXIII Montréal
Tags Session 5A
Author/Auteur Michelle S. Fitts, Gavan R. Palk, Susan P. Jacups


Alcohol restrictions have been implemented in many Indigenous communities internationally, with the aim to reduce alcohol-related harm. Whilst a range of reviews have evaluated such restrictions using different measures, drink driving has been described in several reviews as increasing. Presently, this remains anecdotal;with limited empirical evidence to corroborate these reports. In Australia, the Queensland government introduced alcohol management plans in remote Indigenous communities, during 2002-2003, with total alcohol prohibition commencing in 2008 in some communities. Given road crashes are one of the leading causes of injuries for Indigenous peoples, this study aims to identify if the restrictions have been successful in reducing drink driving or have increased such behaviour. We examine this by reviewing changes in conviction rates and in offender and offence characteristics following the 2008 restrictions. Using de-identified Queensland court drink driving conviction data (2006-2011), from four Indigenous communities, Robust Poisson regression models compared counts of drink driving convictionspre (2006-2008) versus post SRS (2009-2011). Changes in offender characteristics and conviction details (blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and sentencing severity), were examined using chi-squares. Results indicate a decline in convictions after the 2008 SRS in three communities. However, a significant increase in convictions was identified in one study community. Community-level disparity included significant decline in BAC in one community (X²=5.58, p=0.02) compared with the three other communities that did not indicate change and a significant increase the number of women convicted in two communities (X²=17.36, p<0.01; X²=5.79, p=0.04). Alcohol restrictions may have important implications in road safety with these reductions in convictions and BAC in some communities. However, an increase in the number of women convicted and limited changes in BAC for other communities demonstrate the complex relationship between alcohol use, remoteness and driving. Greater focus on demand reduction strategies may be necessary to address alcohol misuse.

Michelle S. Fitts, Gavan R. Palk, Susan P. Jacups