Gift card anger gets reaction

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph
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Aboriginal corporations are talking to police about reducing alcohol-related harm in the community following the furore over gift cards, reportedly used to buy copious amounts of booze.

The Telegraph last week reported on a number of alcohol-related incidents that had occurred in the week leading up to Christmas, which Senior Sergeant Dean Snashall attributed, in part, to large amounts of alcohol that was purchased with gift cards.

Sen. Sgt Snashall said multiple corporations had since contacted South Hedland police to ask how they could assist the force.

“I’ve held 10 community forums on alcohol and drug issues since I got here two years ago and I’ve yet to see these organisations participate in community discussions,” he said. “So this is exactly what needs to happen.

“There needs to be community discussion, not just police dealing with the aftermath of alcohol consumption and drug use.”

The Hedland Liquor Accord will also discuss alcohol-related issues at its meeting on January 31, with both the takeaway alcohol management system and cashless welfare card, which does not allow recipients to spend the money at bottle shops or gambling venues, understood to be on the agenda.

Australian Hotels Association (WA) chief executive Bradley Woods said blanket booze bans alone did not help to address alcohol-related violence.

“The AHA supports targeted solutions such as the cashless welfare card which addresses welfare-funded alcohol and drug abuse, and positive early results have been evidenced in the WA and SA current trials. The takeaway alcohol management systems is an effective tool for targeted intervention on prohibited or banned drinkers as part of a mix of measures,” he said.

The cashless welfare card is being trialled in Kununurra and Wyndham in the East Kimberley and Ceduna in South Australia.

Town of Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco has been vocal about attracting a trial of the cards in the Pilbara since hearing of the positive impacts in the Kimberley.

“The time for talk is over, we need to achieve a real reduction in alcohol and drugs or lose another generation to these issues,” he said.

Durak MP Melissa Price also backed moves to trial the card in the Pilbara.

“My heart breaks for the children in these families who deserve a better life,” she said.

“I will be discussing, with local leaders and the police, the source of the cards.”

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