One year on: Alcohol restrictions have made Alice Springs a safer town

One year on: Alcohol restrictions have made Alice Springs a safer town

Today Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) congratulated the Northern Territory Government on the progress of its evidence-based restrictions on alcohol in Alice Springs, with figures showing they have led to:

  • a considerable reduction in alcohol sales / consumption;
  • a major reduction in crime, including domestic and family violence; and
  • reduced alcohol-related hospital presentations.

Congress Chief Executive Officer, Donna Ah Chee said: “We all remember the wave of alcohol-related crime and violence that affected our town in 2022. At that time, Congress and many other Alice Springs residents and organisations urged the Northern Territory Government to act, and fortunately they listened to us.”

In January 2023 the Northern Territory Government introduced a number of restrictions on the sales of alcohol, including take-away free days on Monday and Tuesday. This was followed in February 2023 by legislation whereby Aboriginal town camps and communities reverted to being ‘dry’ zones.

Ms Ah Chee said: “A year on, the official figures show how effective the Government’s action has been in keeping the people of Alice Springs safe.”

The latest official alcohol wholesales data shows that alcohol sales / consumption in Alice Springs was 25% lower in July-September 2023, after the restrictions were in place, compared to the same period 2022 with no restrictions.

“Just as we see around the world, reduced alcohol sales and consumption have led to significant reductions in crime and violence,” said Ms Ah Chee.

Official NT Police crime statistics show that since the introduction of the restrictions in Alice Springs:

  • the number of alcohol-related Domestic Violence Assaults has fallen by 41% from an average of 115 per month to 68 per month (and all Domestic Assaults down 24%)
  • the number of alcohol-related Assaults has fallen by 42% from an average of 152 per month to an average of 88 per month (with all assaults down 23%)
  • the number of Property Offences has fallen by 13% from an average of 717 per month to an average of 621 per month.

Ms Ah Chee said: “The introduction of the restrictions also led to an immediate halving of alcohol-related presentations at the Alice Springs Hospital Emergency Department. Unfortunately, the Health Department has not yet updated the publicly available hospital data for 2023, but anecdotally we are hearing that the effect has continued.”

Ms Ah Chee continued: “A year on, we can definitely rule out that the reductions in harm are the result of seasonal variations. These effects are real, and they contribute to the safety of every person in Alice Springs.”

Ms Ah Chee concluded by looking to the future.

At Congress we say that alcohol bans alone will not solve all the social issues in Central Australia, including the complex issues that lead to young people being on the streets.

“We need sustained action to address intergenerational trauma, poverty, inequality, poor education, and discrimination. Congress, governments, and other local organisations are continuing to work to address these issues.

“But in the meantime, we will need to continue the alcohol restrictions to keep Alice Springs residents, families, visitors and businesses safe.”


Read more: Congress analysis of Alice Springs alcohol stats to November 2023

Media contact: Kate Buckland 0408 741 691 /


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