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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1924 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

That has been the case for as long as anyone here would remember, I am quite sure. It has always been a problem. Alcohol abuse in the ACT is something that we need to be concerned about. The substance abuse task force will be addressing that issue. Hopefully, it will come up with some recommendations. Some quite interesting work is occurring and I hope that it will be brought together by that task force.

I am interested in a program which is run by a couple of gentlemen who are working with clubs in, from memory, Victoria. They are actually from the club scene-one of them was a football coach or something like that and the other one had a long employment relationship with clubs-and they understand the culture of clubs and alcohol use there. They have developed a program that encourages the management of clubs to change the culture of their clubs from being basically a watering hole. Of interest to me was that their argument to the clubs, which was found to work, was that if they reduced the focus on alcohol there they would change the nature of the clubs significantly as families would be more likely to go along to the clubs and the clubs would do better financially in the long run by having a different profile and different culture, with different people coming in. That has had a really good impact generally.

It seems to be a kind of macho thing in some sports clubs for people to get drunk or whatever, which is something that the younger people see, so the role model issue here is really important. I thought that was an interesting and quite creative response to this problem by people who understand the culture in one particular area. That is where you get quite innovative and effective responses. The substance abuse task force will be useful because it will actually give people in the community who are working or living in the middle of this problem an opportunity to say what they think would work, which is what those two gentlemen have done about the culture in clubs.

Also raised today was the question of protective behaviour and the education of people so that they will not become vulnerable in this regard by learning not to leave their drinks on a table and to stay together, not drink alone. Obviously, that is also useful and important information. Such education needs to be undertaken so that people are aware of the dangers, but I would stress that the education should be about alcohol consumption as well as drink spiking as people can become vulnerable if they drink too much. There is an opportunity to link those two issues

We need to understand why we have a situation whereby people do such a thing to each other. That would be a much harder question to address. It is about respect. It is also about understanding the responsibilities that we all have as individuals in terms of how we treat other people. In my view, that does not necessarily come from saying to a person one might think is behaving irresponsibly that they should behave differently. You can do that, but it is a matter of understanding why that person got to that point. That could come down to their early childhood if they were from families at risk. Children brought up in troubled environments, chaotic environments, could end up having less than a good social attitude, and who could blame them for that.

I think that there is a strong argument here, once again, for early intervention, for understanding that it is not surprising for people to behave in an antisocial manner if they have been brought up in a brutal way. I am sorry to say that that is a reality, quite often, for at-risk children as their environment is chaotic and they have been brutalised to

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