Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Drink driving among Indigenous Australians in outer regional and remote communities and development of a drink driving program: A summary of findings and recommendations

Drink driving is a leading cause of criminal justice system contact for Indigenous Australians. National and state strategies recommend Indigenous road safety initiatives are warranted. However, there is sparse evidence to inform drink driving-related preventive and treatment measures. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, the study examines the profile of Queensland’s Indigenous drink drivers using court convictions and identifies the contributing psycho-social, cultural and contextual factors through qualitative interviews.

Development of a drink driving program for regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

The majority of Indigenous fatal road injuries are sustained by road users in regional and remote areas, whereby a strong association between alcohol and serious and fatal non-metropolitan road crashes has been established. Moreover, Indigenous Australians are overrepresented in drink driving arrests generally and in drink driving recidivism rates. While national and state transport agencies recommend better countermeasures to reduce risky driving practices among Indigenous road users, there is sparse evidence to inform new treatment measures. The project is comprised of three independent but linked stages of quantitative and qualitative research. Analysis of drink driving convictions (2006-2010) in Queensland, identified drink driving convictions were more predominant in rural and remote areas. Qualitative interviews were conducted with participants residing in Cairns and Cape York region in Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Unique risk factors associated with drink driving in the Indigenous context were identified, including kinship pressure and alcohol restrictions. Based on the findings from the two phases, a four session program for regional and remote Indigenous communities was developed. The program, one of first of its kind in Australia, was trialled in three communities. Focus groups and interviews were conducted at the completion of the program to determine short-term perceptions of the content and delivery suitability as well as program recommendations. The program has the ability to be an effective treatment option as part of a community-based sentencing option and assist in reducing drink driving in Indigenous Australian regional and remote communities. Program recommendations and other policy considerations to reduce drink driving in Indigenous communities are discussed.

Policing alcohol and illicit drug use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in metropolitan environments

Policing affords many opportunities for individual officers and police services to improve outcomes for community members and reduce the burden of substance misuse on the community. Key points highlighted concerning metropolitan areas include:

  • A broad spectrum of services is available (albeit acknowledged to often be under-resourced), providing police with a range of referral points for and information sources about local area issues.  
  • Service providers and other agencies may also be variously accountable for public safety. Police may develop partnerships with these agencies, ensuring that tight resources can be appropriately directed to meet community needs.

Service providers can help police to better understand the complex life circumstances of individuals affected by alcohol and other drugs. Benefits of information exchanges can be twofold i.e. improved police confidence in handling complex situations; and increased awareness within the service sector of the range of tasks and behaviours police are expected to perform and manage.

Policing, volatile substance misuse, and Indigenous Australians

Volatile substance misuse is the inhalation of substances containing hydrocarbons to induce a state of intoxication, and there a number of acute and chronic health and social problems with which it can be associated. Police have an important role to play in the minimisation of both volatile substance misuse and related harm. This research project, commissioned by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund, was to enhance the understanding of the law enforcement sector concerning the extent and nature of petrol sniffing and other inhalant misuse by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples predominantly in rural and remote, but also urban communities. A qualitative case study approach was taken to the project and 160 interviews were conducted with a total of 195 people including: police officers; Indigenous police liaison officers or community constables; representatives of Indigenous community-controlled organisations; Indigenous community members; representatives of non-Indigenous non-government organisations; and representatives of government agencies.

The policing implications of cannabis, amphetamine & other illicit drug use in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities

Concerned about the likely impacts of heavy cannabis use in rural and remote communities and recognising the need to equip police with advice on ways to work more effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the National Drug Law Enforcement Fund commissioned a 12-month national study. NDLERF tasked the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Criminology, to examine issues associated with the policing of cannabis, amphetamine and other illicit drug use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in rural and remote areas. This report summarises the findings from that study. The overall aims of the project were to: i) enhance the law enforcement sector's understanding of the extent and nature of illicit drug use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; ii) identify good policing practice to help prevent and to minimise the harms resulting from illicit drug use; and iii) produce guidelines on the implementation of good practice.